Press Release
May 29, 2018

To improve financial status of PhilHealth:

Senator Sonny Angara has renewed his call for the expansion of PhilHealth's primary care benefit package, which includes free check-ups, laboratory tests and medicines, for all Filipinos.

Angara pointed out that expanding the coverage of the primary care benefit package would help improve the financial status of PhilHealth in the long run.

"The primary care benefit package aims to improve access to outpatient medicines, reduce hospitalization, and improve the health of patients with non-communicable diseases long before their conditions become catastrophic. Tiyak na malaki ang matitipid ng PhilHealth kung ang lahat ng miyembro nito ay may akses sa primary care services," Angara said.

The Senate is conducting a review of the performance and accomplishments of PhilHealth amid its reported P9-billion loss and alleged P700-million debt to private hospitals.

Based on the data presented by PhilHealth on Tuesday, among the top drivers of benefit payments in 2017 are: pneumonia (P10 billion), hemodialysis (P8 billion), and urinary tract infections (P2 billion).

The primary care benefit package or "Tsekap" program covers drugs and medicines for pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, urinary tract infection, hypertension, as well as for asthma, acute gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infection, dyslipidemia, deworming and ischemic heart disease.

In a hearing last week, PhilHealth said it is now implementing a rationalization of benefit payouts by expanding its primary care benefit package.

"Magpupunta muna ang mga pasyente sa primary care physician para malaman kung kaya nang i-manage sa primary care setting ang kanilang sakit, kaysa ma-confine sila kaagad kahit hindi na kailangan," explained Nerissa Santiago, Senior Vice President of the Risk Management Sector of PhilHealth.

Also part of the package are regular blood pressure and body measurement, clinical breast examination, cervical cancer screening, digital rectal examination, risk profiling for hypertension and diabetes, counselling for smoking cessation and lifestyle modification, and oral check-up.

Diagnostic examinations such as complete blood count, blood typing, urinalysis, stool exam, chest x-ray, sputum microscopy, lipid profile, fasting blood sugar, creatinine, electrocardiogram are likewise included.

Currently, only indigents and sponsored members are entitled to such benefits.

"We should extend this benefit to all. That is the essence of universal health coverage--that every Filipino must be provided with proper health services without fear of financial hardship," said Angara, one of the authors of the Universal Health Coverage bill.

His father, the late Senator Ed Angara, was the author of the law creating PhilHealth.

"Dapat maunawaan ng mga kababayan natin na ang P2,000 halaga ng pagpapa-check-up at mga gamot sa isang taon ay maaaring makaiwas sa higit P200,000 na pagpapa-dialysis kada taon. Kung may konsultasyon at agarang paggamot, maagapan ang posibleng paglala ng sakit at magiging mas malusog ang mga Pilipino," Angara added.

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