“We are currently institutionalizing the unified implementation of the “No Balance Billing Policy” through which the government and our private healthcare providers can work out a system that will provide an order of charging of medical expenses.”
A year ago, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law. No hospital shall “request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit” for any medical treatment starting then, and any violator would be punished by either imprisonment, fine, or both. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) were also called upon for the implementation of this law: the first to reimburse the hospital or clinic for the medical costs and transportation services given to poor and indigent patients, while the second to provide medical assistance for the basic emergency care needs of poor and marginalized groups.
“Much needs to be done to improve our healthcare system, which remains highly fragmented, resulting in disparity in health outcomes between the rich and the poor in the urban areas and rural. While investments in health have increased over the years, several policy and operational bottlenecks have constrained universal health care for this country.”
But the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) was against it. As soon as the implementing rules and regulations of the law were released, they filed a petition to the Supreme Court to nullify the Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law by Increasing the Penalties for the Refusal of Hospitals and Medical Clinics to Administer Appropriate Initial Treatment and Support in Emergency or Serious Cases. The penalties1 for health facilities that refuse to take in emergency patients who cannot pay in advance is “unconstitutional,” “unreasonable,” and “amounts to denial of due process.” Directing the PhilHealth and the PCSO to reimburse basic emergency care costs to “poor and indigent patients” is violative of the equal protection clause, too, amounting to involuntary servitude.
“We shall pool all our resources for health services under the [PhilHealth]; institutionalize primary care as a prerequisite to access higher level of healthcare; and supplement human resource gaps of the LGUs through a National Health Workforce Support System.”
So, as of now, the PhilHealth covers Filipinos regardless of their social status. An amount—termed as the “case rate amount”—would be deducted from the member’s total bill, which would include the professional fees of attending physicians, prior to discharge2. Filipinos can also turn to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to get free prescription medicine through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program3.
“These will ensure that every Filipino family gets the appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness.”
Indigents, government employees, services workers, and those “determined by DSWD social workers” can benefit from the program through referral letters to the department’s partner-drugstores and hospital pharmacies. They must just submit their medical certificate, doctor’s prescription, indigent card, and valid ID to the DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) located at the Central Office, field offices, and satellite offices in the provinces.
“To this end, I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by Former Representative Harry Roque. Strong political determination, not political ambition, is the guiding light.”
The Universal Health Care bill will automatically include Filipinos into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). The House of Representatives has already passed its third and final reading on this in September 2017, while the Senate’s counterpart measure is still pending at its committee on health. It will be most beneficial to PWDs and tobacco victims, Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) was quoted as saying in a report, since it will ensure that they are especially provided for with their respective healthcare needs.
“One of the most important thrusts of this administration’s medium-term development plan is to cover all Filipinos against financial health risks. That is why I have directed concerned agencies to streamline the various sources of financial assistance for people with health-related needs.” ~ Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
1The Republic Act No. 10932 further notes imprisonment from four to six years, or a fine from P500,000 to P1,000,000, to directors or officers of hospitals or clinics, or both. The facility’s license to operate will also be revoked after three repeated violations, and a presumption of liability shall arise against the hospital and its employees.
2 Filipinos must just go to any PhilHealth office to register, fill out two copies of the PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF), submit the PMRF to the human resources department, then await the member data record and PhilHealth ID card from employer. The contributions are shared by the employee and the employer, and could be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
Filipino senior citizens can apply as well as those who are unemployed or self-employed. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)—documented or undocumented—can register, too. They only have to pay ₱2,400.00 annually or in two increments (₱1,200 every six months). Members could then have 45 days hospitalization allowance after paying at least 3 months’ worth of premiums within the immediate 6 months of confinement. Nine months’ worth of contributions in the last 12 months is needed, on the other hand, for pregnancies, the new born care package, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and selected surgical procedures. The attending physician(s) and the health care institutions (HCI) must also be PhilHealth-accredited.
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler