PH’s health care system not truly universal
DURING the past five years, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of Filipinos enrolled as PhilHealth members. The increase is a result of the heightened campaign of the past administration to enroll all Filipinos, especially the vulnerable population (those considered poor and the senior citizens), in the country’s national health insurance program. These vulnerable groups, under the sponsored program of PhilHealth, enjoys fully subsidized health care from the government through its public health institutions. The sponsored program removes the financial burden from these populations by pooling funds from taxes that are then used as payments for contracted health services. However, the current poor situation of the health care system makes this “progress” less tangible.
Due to problems with procurement, some public hospitals lack essential equipment and medicines. As a consequence, patients are forced to buy these medicines (and sometimes even equipment) through out-of-pocket payments, leading to further financial catastrophe. While the intention of mandatory enrollment in PhilHealth promises financial risk protection for ordinary citizens, some other elements or problems (e.g., procurement) in our health care system prevent us from fully realizing the goals of universal health care.
REINER LORENZO TAMAYO, RN,
UP-Philippine General Hospital
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