By Ben Rosario
Former Quezon City Rep. Michael Defensor has slammed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), one of the top cash-rich state-owned corporations for its failure to cover the expenses for check up and diagnostic (blood) tests of its members which are essential in ensuring better health for Filipinos.
Defensor, nominee of Anakalusugan Partylist, said Filipinos who are PhilHealth members should be covered by free check up, diagnostics examination and other basic medical procedures.
“PhilHealth operates like an insurance company. By its very nature, some members avail of the benefits while others do not. This means PhilHealth has the money to cover these expanded benefits,” said Defensor.
Defensor, who attended a regional meeting of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee in Toledo City over the weekend, said Philhealth has an existing fund of at least P105 billion, making it one of the richest government-owned firms.
He chided Philhealth for its continued failure to provide equitable access to medical services and procedures, both preventive and curative.
He pointed out that these are Philhealth obligations because it is mandated to provide insurance coverage to those who are employed in government or in the private sector, indigents, senior citizens and sponsored members.
“PhilHealth has a fund of at least P105 billion. Under the Universal Health Care, that amount will go up to at least P160 billion,” said Defensor.
“If we get sick, there is an insurance that will guarantee our payment – that is the role of PhilHealth. But its diagnostic tests and check-ups are focused on when you are already very sick or confined. Our advocacy is to push for diagnostics and check-ups even before you are sick,” the former QC solon explained.
“Even maintenance medicines should be free and covered by PhilHealth. Hindi tayo dapat magbayad kahit singko dahil may pera ang PhilHealth – kailangan lang ilagay sa tamang programa. We just need to ensure that PhilHealth funds are properly handled,” he added.
Defensor stressed that expanding the coverage of PhilHealth to include preventive procedures and maintenance medicines will help prevent three top causes of death in the country – heart-related diseases and stroke, cancer and diabetes.
“These are all non-communicable diseases, yet Filipinos die from these because they do not know that they are already suffering from these diseases owing to their inability to avail of a check-up or diagnostic test,” he said.
By end-November 2018, PhilHealth posted a net income of P8 billion, a seven-fold growth from the insurance agency’s P1 billion net income in 2017.
The state firm also registered a premium income of P118 billion or 21 percent higher than the P97.18 billion collected in 2017.
PhilHealth’s investment portfolio also rose to P152 billion while its benefit payments reached P111 billion in 2018.