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Filipinos unsure of capacity to meet medical needs

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By Analou De Vera

Filipinos were found to lack confidence in terms of addressing their medical needs, based on the 2019 PhilCare Wellness Index.

According to the study, 40 percent of the 1,350 respondents said that they were unsure whether they can pay for their medical bills. It also revealed that 35 percent of the respondents were also unsure if they could afford regular medical checkups.

The study also showed that 37 percent of the respondents managed to pay their bills using their savings, while 25 percent seek help from their family or friends to pay medical debts. It also showed that 15 percent were able to settle their medical bills using their health insurance.

“Respondents admit that they lack the confidence to address medical needs,” said PhilCare Wellness Index lead researcher Dr. Fernando Paragas in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“Pagdating sa pagbabayad ng ating gastusin lalo na sa medical matters, mahina pa tayo,” he added.

[When it comes to paying our expenses, particularly on medical matters, we still have a lot to work on.]

Despite the lack of confidence in addressing medical needs, Filipinos still see their health and well-being as “somewhat good.”

“Respondents rated themselves to be in overall good health. They also believe that they enjoy the ideal weight, despite their bodies not being in tip-top shape,” said Paragas.

“Respondents rated themselves as ‘somewhat good’ in terms of their overall health in a score of 2.84,” he added.

Paragas explained that this positive response with regard to physical health is being mirrored by their psychological disposition.

“Respondents, on average, agreed that they lead a meaningful life, they are well-respected and that they are satisfied with their lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paragas said that it is possible that people do not prioritize saving money for medical needs because they think that they are healthy.

“Katulad sa isang pag-aaral na ginawa ko noon, malaki yung paggastos sa travel. Sa mga kabataan ngayon, mahilig mamamasyal para huwag magkasakit, pero ang katotohanan pag nagkasakit sila, wala silang mahuhugot na pangbayad sa ospital,” he said.

[In a previous study that I conducted, the respondents spend big on travel, particularly the youth, because they believed that they can avoid getting sick. But the truth is, when they get sick, they do not have enough money to pay for their hospital bill.]

Former Health Secretary and Philcare Wellness Index chairman Enrique Ona, meanwhile, said that the findings in the study might be useful for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Program.

“PhilCare will also forge partnerships with the government sector so they could use this study of PhilCare to craft relevant policies. We have findings in this study that may be very useful in the goal of the government to attain truly universal health care,” he said.

The PhilCare Wellness Index was first conducted in 2014 to measure the “state of being happy, healthy, or successful” among Filipinos.

For this year’s study, the respondents came from different regions and were interviewed face to face.

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