PhilHealth to discuss proposed package for saliva-based COVID-19 testing

Published January 27, 2021, 12:00 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) board is set to discuss the proposed rate of benefit package for saliva-based coronavirus test.

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)

According to PhilHealth president Dante Gierran, the state health firm welcomed saliva testing as an alternative method to detect the coronavirus and has conducted a study on its proposed inclusion under PhilHealth coverage.  The PhilHealth board will meet Wednesday to discuss the recommendation of the study, Gierran said.

“Mayroon ng study ginawa ng ating mga kasama dito sa PhilHealth and welcome for us itong saliva testing because it’s less intrusive (There is a study conducted by our colleagues in Philhealth. Saliva testing is welcome for us because it’s less intrusive),” he said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

“And on our studies on our recommendation even pricing will be… what we call this… will be tossed to the meeting we will be having tomorrow (Wednesday) with the board of directors,” he said.

President Duterte earlier expressed support for the use of saliva-based coronavirus testing in the country due to its high accuracy rate.

The Philippine Red Cross has launched its saliva polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, assuring the diagnostic method has 99 percent accuracy. A saliva test will reportedly cost P2,000, cheaper than the regular PCR swab testing.

Red Cross payment

Gierran said PhilHealth is committed to settle its financial obligations to the Philippine Red Cross related the COVID testing. He said the state firm owes Red Cross around P400 million after making previous payments.

“Sa totoo lang because mayroon pang advance noong unang ginawa, noong una—during the time of previous CEO Morales, mayroong advance daw 100 million ‘no. So sa total po, ang natira na lang something like mga 300 million na lang po (Actually, there was an advance payment of P100 million made during the time of previous CEO (Ricardo) Morales, so the total balance is something like P300 million),” he said.

“And our history of payment is klaro. Sige-sige naman ang bayad natin basta lang matapos ang validation ng mga test (Our history of payment is clear. We make payments after the validation of the tests),” he said.

‘We have money’

Asked about the financial stability of PhilHealth, Gierran assured the public that “we have money,” citing ongoing collections. The reserve fund has reached P132 million as of November 2020, he said.

Gierran also said PhilHealth has liquidated 92 percent of the P15 billion fund allegedly missing or had been pocketed by former officials.

“Hindi po nawawala, andiyan lang (It is not missing. It’s there),” he said. “I will not allow that iyong pera ng Pilipino nawala. Sir galing ako sa NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) po, hindi puwedeng mangyari sa akin iyan (I will not allow the money of Filipinos to go missing. I came from the NBI and that cannot happen under my watch),” he said.