By Ellson Quismorio
Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is up in arms over the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) supposed move to limit its treatment package for COVID-19 patients.
“I am appealing to the President and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) to reverse the decision of PhilHealth to limit the treatment cost it will shoulder. It is the poor who will suffer from that decision, and I am sure the President will not allow that,” Rodriguez said.
He made the appeal Wednesday after reading a news report that an unnamed private hospital in Metro Manila billed a “moderate case” COVID-19 patient P1.1 million for an 18-day confinement-treatment, or an average of almost P61,000 a day.
He said it is obvious that a severe case would cost more than P1.1 million to treat.
“Patients who are poor and even those belonging to the middle class certainly cannot afford P61,000 or even much less than that a day. The government, through PhilHealth, has to help them by shouldering the full cost of treatment,” Rodriguez stressed.
According to the news report the Mindanao lawmaker referred to, the unnamed hospital charged the patient a total of P1,112,327.59.
The bill, consisting of more than 50 pages, included P176,945 for the patient’s stay in the emergency room, P123,665 for the use of an incubator, P178,820, for x-rays and a test kit, and P305,636.06 for medicines.
The report stated that the hospital required the patient to sign a promissory note before he was discharged.
Based on the announcement of PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales, the government-owned health insurance firm will start limiting the cost of COVID-19 treatment Wednesday, April 15.
The limits are P43,997 for mild pneumonia, P143,267 for moderate pneumonia, P333,519 for severe pneumonia, P786,384 for critical pneumonia/COVID-19.
The maximum amounts were set five days after Morales announced that PhilHealth would answer the full cost of COVID-19 treatment.
On April 2, Morales said, “Babayaran ng PhilHealth and lahat ng medical expenses ng mga taong magkakaroon ng COVID-19, especially ‘yung ating mga public health workers. Gusto nating bigyan sila ng confidence saka peace of mind para sila’y makapag-focus sa trabaho (PhilHealth will shoulder all medical expenses of people who will contract COVID-19, especially our public health workers. We want to give them confidence and peace of mind so they may focus on their duties).”
“Wala silang aalalahanin kung sila po ay magkakasakit. Sasagutin ng PhilHealth lahat ng kanilang medical expenses (They shouldn’t worry about getting sick PhilHealth will answer all their medical expenses),” he said.