Know your patient rights

2013-09-01 06:00

HIV patients have been shown the door at at least one Gauteng hospital, it was reported this week, because they couldn’t prove their citizenship. Zinhle Mapumulo spells out your rights as a patient.

Every person living in South Africa has a right to access healthcare irrespective of whether they are living in the country legally or not. Although this right may seem broad it does come with responsibilities.

In certain instances, you will have to pay for health services even if you went to a public hospital depending on the procedure you require, according to national health department spokesperson Popo Maja. “Sometimes you may have to produce some form of identification in order to receive prescription drugs.

In a case where you don’t have identification you must have a referring letter from your doctor,” he explains.

But in case of emergencies, he says, “everybody is treated irrespective of whether they have some form of identification or not”.

Emergency cases include trauma, obstetrics and a life-threatening illness where a patient has to be treated immediately.

Maja explains that any person wanting prescription drugs including antiretrovirals (ARVs) has to produce some form of identification.

He said this was done to ensure that the department can account for the medicine it dispenses and also for statistical purposes.

He said: “We have heard of situations where ARVs are used in drugs like nyaope and if we didn’t have some of these control in place we would end up giving (the drugs to) people who may be using them for these purposes.”

Here are Maja’s tips for using public healthcare in South Africa:

What you need to take to a public hospital

» Some form of identification – ID or passport (if you are a foreign national).

» A referral letter from a clinic or your doctor.

Cost of treatment at public hospitals

» Unemployed people pay R39 as an outpatient. This will cover your consultation, medication and possible blood or other tests.

» A pensioner will pay R13 for the same service.

» If you are unemployed and need to be admitted, you will pay R194 for up to 30 days.

» The maximum a state hospital will charge, if you can afford to pay, is R55 for a consultation. If you’re admitted, you can pay up to R485 per day, excluding medicine and theatre costs.

What you need to take to a private hospital

» Some form of identification – ID or passport (if you are a foreign national).

» Medical aid card, if you have medical aid, or you’ll pay cash for the consultation.

» If it was a non-emergency, in some instances, your medical scheme should have given you an authorisation number or it might have sent it to the treating doctor who would have sent it to the hospital before you arrived. If your scheme didn’t authorise your treatment you may be liable for the treatment expenses, including admission. Check with your medical aid if you are not sure if you need authorisation.

Cost of treatment at private hospitals

» It varies depending on the treatment or procedure.

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