Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to certify Universal Health Coverage Bill as a priority measure.
The House of Representatives approved the bill on third and final reading on September 6 last year while the Senate version is still pending.
In the Senate, Villanueva authored Senate Bill No. 60 or the Enhanced Universal Healthcare Act together with Senators Ralph Recto and Sherwin Gatchalian. The measure seeks to expand the benefit packages being offered by PhilHealth by increasing the number 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.
As of 2016, 91% or 93 million Filipinos are covered by PhilHealth. About half of them are indigents while the rest is 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.
“We thank the President for certifying the Universal Health Coverage Bill as a priority measure. This will definitely help in the swift passage of a law which will improve the PhilHealth benefits and provide coverage to all Filipinos,” Villanueva said.