Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday emphasized the immediate passage of a measure aimed at improving the Philhealth benefits and providing coverage to all Filipinos.
Senate Bill No. 60 or the Enhanced Universal Healthcare Act of 2016 filed by Villanueva together with Senators Ralph Recto and Sherwin Gatchalian proposes to expand the benefit packages being offered by Philhealth by increasing the amount of benefits to lessen the out-of-pocket expenses on the part of the members.
Improving the benefit packages would entail the inclusion of preventive and promotive health services in a bid to alleviate the chances of confinement and encourage a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos.
The measure was discussed in a hearing conducted by the Committee on Health and Demography joint with Committee on Ways and Means and Committee on Finance held in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
Villanueva, who was present at the said inquiry, noted that the proposal seeks to close the gap in Philhealth coverage.
As of 2016, 91% or 93 Million Filipinos are covered by Philhealth. About half of them are indigents while the rest are composed of paying individuals from both formal and informal economies and lifetime members.
“We want all Filipinos or 100% of the population to be covered by Philhealth since we believe that every Filipino should not suffer any injustice in availing health services,” Villanueva said.
The senator added that the bill aims to qualify every Filipino for health insurance benefits regardless if he or she is a Philhealth ID holder or not.
Based on the financial statements of Philhealth in 2015, it shows that the corporation collected P96.7 billion from premium contributions of all its members, including the government subsidy for indigents.
Consequently, the Philhealth paid out around P97 billion for benefit payments that covered about 8.4 million claims. If each claim would be treated as one patient, then it can be assumed that on average, each person who availed Philhealth benefits in 2015 only got P11,500 each, a measly amount to cover annual medical expenses.
Meanwhile, under the bill, funds from the said program will be sourced from: a) 80% of the incremental value collected from sin tax; b) 50% share of the national government from PAGCOR income; and c) the charity fund from the PCSO.
The amount that will come from the said sources will be included in the General Appropriations Act as a subsidy for Philhealth that will be allocated under the budget of the Department of Health.
“Naniniwala po tayo na hindi po pinipili ng ating Konstitusyon ang tutulungan pagdating sa pangangailangang pangkalusugan ng ating mga kababayan - mahirap ka man o mayaman. Lubos na kailangan po natin ngayon ang isang makabuluhang batas na magbibigay ng maayos at abot-kayang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat,” Villanueva said.