By Ben Rosario
Voting 222-7, the House of Representatives last night approved on third and final reading the bill providing universal health care for all Filipinos.
A consolidation of three different legislative proposals, House Bill 5784 or the Unviersal Health Coverage Act will amend Republic Act No. 7875, otherwise known as the National Health Insurance Act of 1995.
Principal authors of the consolidated bills are Reps. Harry Roque (Kabayan Partylist); Vilma Santos Recto (LP, Batangas); Angelina D.L. Tan (NPC, Quezon); Victoria Isabel Noel (An Waray Partylist); Rose Marie J. Arenas (PDP-Laban, Pangasinan) and Cheryl P. Deloso Montalla (NUP, Zambales).
HB 5784 underscores the right of every Filipino to have access to a comprehensive set of health services that will not “cause financial hardship”.
Under the bill, in-patient health services will be made available at zero- co-payment for the non contributory group and for those who opt for basic accomomdation, and a fixed co-insurance rates for all who opt for higher types of accommodation.
For outpatient service, zero co-payment in public facilities and fixed co-insurance in private facilities will be guaranteed.
HB 5784 mandates that within three years from its effectivity as a law, every Filipino shall have a guaranteed primary care provider. Within two years, the Philippine Health Security Corporation will implement a comprehensive outpatient benefit, including outpatient drug benefit, in accordance with the recommendations of the Health Technology Assessment Council.
In the bill, the current National Health Insurance Program will be renamed National Health Security Program which will provide health insurance coverage for all Filipino citizens, thus, guaranteeing access to medical care with the least financial risk.
“The program shall serve as a means for the healthy to help pay for the care of the sick and for those who can afford medical care to subsidize those who cannot,” the bill provides.
Members of the program will be categorized as contributory or those who are gainfully employed and non-contributory, referring to indigents, senior citizens and others to be identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
HB 5784 also proposes to create the National Health Security Fund that will get funding from contributions from the program, national government allocation and health assistance funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and local government units.