By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Health (DOH) has been urged to look into the possibility of increasing the benefit package being extended by the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) to COVID-19 patients.
La Union 2nd district Rep. Sandra Eriguel, a medical doctor by profession, asked the DOH to step in and address the snowballing concerns on Philhealth’s adoption of case rate packaging.
She cited the special case of doctors who are COVID-19 patients and whose hospitalization expenses run up to the millions of pesos during the virtual hearing of the House Special Committee on North Luzon Growth Quarangle.
The chairperson of the House Committee on Social Services said the current Philhealth benefit package is not enough to cover the medical expenses of coronavirus patients.
“May I request DOH Assistant Secretary [Maria Francia] Laxamana to please increase the benefit package kasi namumrublema po ngayon yung mga doctors especially mayroon ding medical students sa family po. (because the doctors are having problems, especially those who have medical students in their family) So like a family of four, kung lahat po tinamaan po ng COVID eh kawawa naman sila, naghihirap po sila ngayon sa pagraise po ng pambayad ng medical bills nila. (If they are infected with COVID, they are pitiful, they are now having difficult time raising payment for their medical bills),” Eriguel said on Monday during the virtual hearing of the House Special Committee on North Luzon Growth Quadrangle on the DOH plans and programs implemented in North Luzon in response to COVIID-19.
She recalled that the PhilHealth fully paid for the hospitalization and treatment costs of all COVID-19 patients for admissions prior to April 15, and decided to adopt case rates for COVID-19 patients for admissions effective April 15.
The case limits are as follows: P43,997 for mild pneumonia; P143,267 for moderate pneumonia; P333,519 for severe pneumonia; and P786,384 for critical pneumonia/COVID-19.
She said that the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Universal Health Care (UHC) will have its meeting tomorrow, June 16 where the DOH and Philhealth are expected to report on the implementation of Republic Act No. 11223, otherwise known as the UHC Act.
Laxamana assured Eriguel that the DOH will “bring up” the matter to the Philhealth.
“We will do our best to propose that to Philhealth kasi meron naman po sila mga bagong mga case rates at benefit package na ginagawa po ngayon (because they are now implementing new case rates and benefit package.),” she told the panel, chaired by Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Ramon “Mon-Mon” Guico V.
During the virtual hearing, the 2021 budget proposals of the DOH for Regions I (Ilocos), II (Cagayan Valley) and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were presented. The DOH’s budget request for the three regions totals P21.5 billion.