Philhealth not the answer to ailing public health system


QUEZON CITY – Health NGO Council for Health and Development (CHD) registered its reaction to the seeming endless (and some empty) promises of presidential and senatorial ‘wannabes’ in next month’s national election.

Among those of the top in almost every politician’s first agenda for health care is Philhealth. “In as much as we hate to pop the bubble, we have to be true to ourselves and make the public know that Philhealth as a solution to the problem of health care inaccessibility is a mere illusion,” Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Executive Director of CHD pointed out.

Jara explained that political candidates deceive the Filipino people every time they make Philhealth appear and sound like a “ride-all-you-can ticket in a theme park.”

Citing data from Philhealth’s 2015 Government Subsidies, the agency received a total of P48.9 billion from only P36.8 billion in 2014 and P16.9 billion in 2013. Given the huge leaps in subsidies, it is ironic to note that Philhealth only accounted for 11.5% of the total health expenditures in 2013 while Filipino households bore the burden of 56.3% of their health needs as private out-of-pocket as per Philippine National Health Accounts 2013.

In the same year, Jara pointed out that under Philhealth’s Sponsored Program, only 4 out of 10 claims were covered in the No Balance Billing (NBB). Meaning, 6 out of 10 indigent members had to cough out-of-pocket expenses to settle their hospital bills.

In terms of other hospitalization essentials, Ibon Foundation revealed that only 5.4% of medicines and laboratory expenses were paid by Philhealth and only 51% of indigent claims were fully covered.

Moreover, in many cities and rural areas, Jara observed that even members find their Philhealth cards useless in public hospitals and clinics that lack basic hospital equipments, laboratories, and pharmacy supplies. “Patients and their relatives are forced to buy prescribed medicine in private pharmacies outside the hospital or spend for laboratory and other procedures in privately-owned facilities as well,” lamented Jara.

Business-wise, only 35% of Philhealth accredited facilities are government-owned and 65% are private. “Hence, it is not difficult to piece together the fact that private health institutions and facilities get more out of Philhealth payments than public facilities,” added Jara.

Given these facts, CHD urges the entire Filipino people to rethink their votes for candidates that put too much premium to Philhealth as a means to make health care accessible to the majority. Alternatively, CHD said that the people should demand for a health budget which will be directly subsidized to public hospitals that will be used to provide for free medicines and services to the people.

CHD is the national organization of more than 60 community based health programs (CBHP) in the Philippines.#


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