Senior citizen’s rights, privileges as patient, consumer

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am a senior citizen. Last week, I went to a medical center for a check-up. Several laboratory tests were conducted. When I got my bill, I noticed that the hospital did not give me a discount. I know for a fact that I am entitled to a senior citizen discount but I am not sure about the scope of the discount and on how I can assert my rights. Please help.
Lolo Max

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Dear Lolo Max,
Pursuant to its objectives, which include providing support to the well-being of the elderly, Republic Act (RA) 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 grants several rights and privileges to senior citizens. The privileges granted by law to senior citizens include entitlement to a senior citizen discount and VAT exemption.

Section 4 (a) of the law grants 20 percent discount and exemption from value-added tax (VAT) on purchases of certain goods and services for the exclusive use and enjoyment of a senior citizen. With respect to goods and services related to the medical needs of a senior citizen, the discount and exemption from VAT cover: purchase of medicines, including the purchase of influenza and pnuemococcal vaccines, and such other essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment to be determined by the Department of Health (DOH);

professional fees of attending physician/s in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services;professional fees of licensed health professionals providing home health care services as endorsed by private hospitals or employed through home health care employment agencies; and

medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services, in accordance with the rules and regulations to be issued by the DOH, in coordination with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Any person or entity that refuses to honor these privileges accorded to senior citizens incurs criminal responsibility and thus may be punished with imprisonment and fine. If the offender is a corporation, partnership, organization or any similar entity, the officials thereof directly involved such as the president, general manager, managing partner or such other officer charged with the management of the business affairs shall be liable (Section 10, RA 9994).

Administrative sanctions may also be imposed against erring persons or entities. Upon filing of an appropriate complaint, and after due notice and hearing, the proper authorities may cause the cancelation or revocation of the business permit, permit to operate, franchise and other similar privileges of the concerned establishments (Section 10, RA 9994).

Please take note, however, that in order to avail of the benefits, the senior citizen or his/her duly authorized representative is required to present proof of eligibility such as senior citizens’ identification card issued by the Head of the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs of the place where the senior citizen resides, passport or other documents that can show that the person is a citizen of the Philippines and at least 60 years old (Section 6, RA 9994). Other documents include government-issued identification documents indicating an elderly’s birth date or age such as driver’s license, voter’s ID, SSS/GSIS ID, PRC card and postal ID (Rule IV, Article 5.5, Implementing Rules and Regulation of RA 9994).

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope you find this opinion helpful. Thank you for your continued trust and support.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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