LEGAZPI CITYSenator Sonny Angara has urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) to expand its primary care package to include executive checkup and laboratory tests under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) bill that is still awaiting approval in Congress.
Angara, during his visit to Albay Thursday, told the Philippine News Agency that the UHC bill seeks to provide every Filipino access to a comprehensive set of health services free of charge.
Philhealth's primary care package only includes standard health check-ups and medicines for 10 common conditions including asthma, pneumonia, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
"An executive health checkup and the corresponding laboratory test can be costly enough to eat up much more of one's earnings," Angara said.
"Filipino families still bear the brunt of healthcare in the Philippines," he added.
A study conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that healthcare expenses account for 54.2 percent of household out-of pocket payments.
"Even if the prices of the healthcare and medicines are reduced to at-cost levels, the poor will still not benefit because the reduced price of services and medicines remains beyond their capacity," the senator said. "Hence, the provision of free, and not just cheaper health services and medicines through social health insurance and other funding sources to support the poor is crucial to achieve improved health outcomes."
The lawmaker recently filed Senate Bill No. 1673, entitled "An Act Providing for a Universal Health Coverage for Filipinos and Appropriating Funds".
The measure seeks to increase Philhealth coverage to 100 percent of the country's population and expand the benefits and services ordinarily available under the current National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).
Under the bill, the NHIP will be strengthened and renamed as the National Health Security program, wherein all Filipinos will be automatically covered.
"We have to make sure that healthcare is accessible to all and no one is left behind. We can only do that if we create a universal healthcare system that will cover all Filipinos, including key population and other marginalized groups," Angara said.
Aside from Angara, also here in Albay are his "seatmates" in the Upper Chamber: Senators Joel Villanueva; Juan Miguel Zubiri; JV Ejercito; Nancy Binay and Risa Hontiverosto personally visit and distribute relief goods to Mayon evacuees.
Source: Philippine News Agency