By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The hospital bills of COVID-19 patients found to have contracted the disease because of “irresponsible and reckless behavior” should be excluded from the coverage of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Rep. Jericho Nograles proposed on Sunday (May 17).
The Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list solon asked Philhealth not to cover the medical bills of “people who deliberately endanger themselves and their community” after expressing his dismay over reports that many people flocked to shopping malls over the weekend and were not observing quarantine protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“Nagulat talaga ako dahil parang wala na yung COVID-19 noong makita ko sa TV ang mga tao sa malls. Napakaraming pasaway! Kumpol-kumpol at bale wala na ang social distancing,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
(I was shocked, it was as if there was no COVID-19 when I saw on TV all those people in the malls. So many hardheaded people! They huddled close to each other and social distancing was disregarded.)
“This only shows that many of our people are still underestimating the COVID-19 virus. We will pay for this with a second wave of infection,” he added.
Fearing the second wave of COVID-19 infection, he asked Philhealth “to set new guidelines” to issue a stern warning against the violators of the social distancing protocols.
The National Capital Region shifted from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on Saturday (May 16).
Nograles proposed that before PhilHealth coverage is granted to a COVID patient, they must be first investigated by Philhealth how and why they contracted the disease.
The concerned patient should fully disclose the circumstances that led to the infection not only to determine eligibility for health care coverage, but also to help authorities in their contact tracing, he said.
“From what I saw during the weekend, it seems to me that people have totally forgotten that the virus is still out there without any vaccine and without any real cure. I really fear for the second wave which could really jeopardize PhilHealth’s viability. PhilHealth should only help those who deserve to be helped,” Nograles said.
“The same non-coverage should apply for those who are irresponsible enough to throw parties and the like which would endanger the public,” he added.