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$1 Million Unpaid Bills by Health Care Cheats at Waikato Hospital

There are $1 million worth unpaid bills pending at the Waikato hospital owed by the health care cheats . These cheats are those patients who use the taxpayer-funded health care facilities to which they are not eligible as they are not the citizens of New Zealand nor do they hold a valid New Zealand passport.

These patients use the free services which are meant only for the tax paying citizens.

Last week Waikato District Health Board sent out 4000 letters to voluntary services patients asking for confirmation of their country of birth.

It's not clear exactly how many patients have slipped through the chink. Health board spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said it was difficult to estimate the cost of various operations, with the cost of each case depending on the specific disease.

According to her the estimation runs into more than $546,000 for medical procedures, $58,000 for surgical, and just under $90,000 for maternity and gynecology, in the 13 months from January 1, 2006, to the end of February this year. In total the board says it's owed as much as $1 million.

The step of sending letters to patients had to be undertaken as most of them had not given information regarding their place of birth while filling hospital record.

"The focus needs to remain on getting non-eligible people to pay for their treatment and, I think, more importantly, ensuring that those on elective lists are eligible and therefore not delaying New Zealand eligible patients."

Many hospitals in other districts too have become stricter in their process. The health care has become vigilant in their approach to crack down on illegal immigrants who misuse health care meant for citizens.

Such a crackdown would mean those ineligible patients would be refused treatment at New Zealand taxpayer-funded hospitals such as Waikato, Mrs. Gill said. "They can seek treatment in the private sector."

She said the board woul d keep tabs on the situation through the Immigration Department: "We will pick up anomalies as they arise."

Last week the DHB said many ineligible pregnant women were traveling from Auckland, where they knew they wouldn't be treated, to Waikato Hospital to give birth.

The women have been turning up at the hospital in labor, giving birth and supplying false names and addresses to avoid paying for the delivery, which costs about $2000. < br>

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