State insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is pushing for the postponement of the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, due to poor collection caused by the COVID-19 quarantines.
PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said in today’s Laging Handa (“Always Ready”) virtual media briefing that the proposal to postpone the law is still under discussion.
“That’s not for me to decide; that’s the decision of our policymakers. The reason behind that is we’re looking at our cash flow and the collection is declining. Like that our economy stopped. Our directly paying members weren’t able to go to work. So our collection suffered. So that’s one reason why we told our policymakers that we are facing this problem,” Morales said in English and Filipino.
Signed in February 2019, the law provides healthcare coverage to all Filipinos. Its enactment means that everyone will be enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program, whether as direct contributors (members who pay premiums) or as indirect contributors (government-sponsored indigents, senior citizens, or persons with disabilities).
Morales’ request to postpone the law was criticized by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, who as a congressman in 2019 was one of the lawmakers who sponsored the bill. He said if Morales cannot enforce the law, “maybe we will look for someone else who can implement it.”
Morales said he and Roque are not engaged in a feud but are united in the objective of serving the public.
Meanwhile, the PhilHealth chief said that despite the poor economy, the state insurer has enough money to support its members.
“We started the year with a reserve of PHP130 billion (US$2.5 billion), and we estimate that the price tag of COVID is about PHP40 billion (US$798.5 million). So far, we have paid PHP52.5 billion (US$1 billion). We will be fine for the year, for the year 2020 and then maybe up to the middle of next year, so there’s nothing to worry about,” he said.
“We will continue with the same services. Those who need to have dialysis treatments, those who need chemotherapy, people who will give birth — the amount you get from PhilHealth will continue. And the immediate eligibility, even those who don’t pay their premiums you can get healthcare. So we are fine for this year,” he said.
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