Universal Health Care bill to make check-ups free for Filipinos


MANILA Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday has sponsored the Universal Health Care bill, which aims to ensure that every Filipino will have access to appropriate, affordable, and quality health services including free checkups, laboratory tests and medicines.

Under Senate Bill 1896, all Filipinos shall be automatically included in the National Health Insurance Program, and all Filipinos shall be entitled to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services.

"We now have an opportunity to institute reforms in PhilHealth, expand its coverage even further, and most importantly, improve the services and benefits available to all Filipino families. Sa panukalang ito, matutupad ang ating adhikaing maging libre ang pagpapa-checkup (Under this bill, our dream to make free checkups would be realized)," said Angara, one of the authors of the measure, in his sponsorship speech.

Angara said giving Filipinos access to promotive and preventive health services, which include free checkup, laboratory tests and medicines, will reduce hospitalization and improve the health of Filipinos against non-communicable or lifestyle diseases long before their conditions become worse.

"Prevention is better than cure. Kaya't nakakalungkot na ipinagpapaliban ng mga Pilipino ang pagpapa-checkup dahil iniisip nila ang gastusin. Magpapatingin lamang sila kapag malala na ang kanilang sakit (It is sad to note that many Filipinos delay having a checkup because they consider the medical expenses. They would only consult a doctor when their condition is already out of hand). Six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor," Angara said.

Under the proposed measure, PhilHealth will become the single national purchaser of healthcare services. It will pool all the medical assistance-related funds from different government agencies such as Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Department of Health (DOH).

Based on a 2016 data from the DOH, more than half or 54 percent of the country's healthcare spending came from out-of-pocket expenses.

"This means Filipino families still carry the biggest burden when they seek hospital treatment. That weight should not be theirs to carry alone. In fact, they should not have to carry that weight at all.

"Kapag naging single national purchaser ang PhilHealth, mas malaki na ang puhunan nito, at mas malaki ang kanyang kakayanan para saluhin ang mga gastusing medikal ng pamilyang Pilipino. Sa pamamagitan ng Universal Health Care bill, wala nang Pilipinong magigipit kapag nagkakasakit (If PhilHealth becomes the single national purchaser, it would have a bigger budget and it would have a greater capacity to shoulder the medical expenses of Filipino families. Through the Universal Health Care bill, no Filipino would be pushed to the wall when he gets sick)," he added. (Senate PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency