By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is expected to request a total budget of P27.177 billion from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the health insurance coverage of senior citizens in 2019, a woman partylist lawmaker said.
Senior Citizen partylist Rep. Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay said PhilHealth vowed to resume coverage for all senior citizens as mandated by the Republic Act 10546 or the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for Senior Citizens Act), particularly for the full implementation of primary care benefits package.
The assurance was made during Magsaysay’s meeting with PhilHealth officer-in-charge president Dr. Roy Ferrer on Wednesday.
She noted that for next year, PhilHealth is planning to increase the premium allotment for senior citizens from P3,120 to P5,000 per patient.
“Government intends to subsidize all of these premium payments via the 2019 national budget, from the proceeds of sin taxes, as mandated by law,” Magsaysay said.
She cited that Philhealth will present to DBM a total budget allotment request of P27.177 billion for the coverage of senior citizens in 2019, as well as an additional P20.628 billion to service the arrears from senior citizens coverage between 2014 and 2016.
“This is a positive and responsive action on the part of PhilHealth, a sign of goodwill of its new leadership in keeping true to its mandate of serving all senior citizens of the Philippines with affordable, reliable and sustainable healthcare security. Hopefully, the DBM will support this move in rectifying the disenfranchisement of the elderly from the national healthcare insurance program in the past,” she said.
During the meeting, Magsaysay asked the Philhealth to strengthen information campaign by partnering with the local Office of Senior Citizens Affairs and other elderly organizations in educating senior citizens of their benefits and privileges as automatic PhilHealth members,
She said preventive health programs should also be strengthened to decrease hospitalization costs through comprehensive geriatric health assessment, regular checkups, ease of access to medicine, and community-based health and wellness programs.
She also asked Magsaysay to consider establishing Home Care Providers, which can provide home care services to incapacitated senior citizens needing long-term care, as well instituting Elderly Day Care Centers, or barangay-based health and wellness centers to look after the elderly whose family members are working.
“These programs will drastically lessen the impact on hospital costs by elderly patients incurred on PhilHealth, while greatly enhancing their quality of health,” Magsaysay said.