PH Red Cross seeks urgent inclusion of saliva tests in PhilHealth benefit package

Published February 15, 2021, 9:26 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to take immediate action on its request to include the saliva reverse transcription (RT)- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in the state health insurer’s benefit package. 

Philippine Red Cross (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon said he cannot understand why PhilHealth is dragging its feet to take action on their proposed inclusion of the saliva RT-PCR test in the PhilHealth package. 

“Ang PhilHealth as usual tinatake ang time, eh bakit kaya? Eh heto na nga pinababa na natin ang presyo para hindi masyaodng mahirapan ang mga taga Philhealth from P3, 409 ang test na ito ay P2, 000 at ito ay talagang dumaan sa scientific research. Eh bakit anong rason? Baka naman meron kayong prinoproteksyunan na naginvest ng malaki dyan sa saliva test (The PhilHealth is taking its time, why is it? We have already lowered down the price from P3, 409 to P2,000 so that the PhilHealth won’t be having hard time and this underwent scientific research. What is the reason? Maybe they are trying to protect those who made huge investment on saliva test.),” he said in a radio interview. 

While, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has allowed the “private use” of the saliva coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test, the PRC has to secure the approval of DOH-Health Technology Assessment Council  (HTAC) before they can launch such  test for public use.

In the same radio interview, Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of PRC’s Molecular Laboratory, said the PhilHealth has yet to act on their request. 

“Sa ngayon po, wala pa pong PhilHealth benefit package for our saliva test. Ito po ay ating pina-follow up rin at kailangan pa po ng Board Resolution para maipasok sa PhilHealth (As of now, there’s no PhilHealth benefit package for our saliva test. We are also following this up and a Board Resolution is need for this to be included in PhilHealth),” she said. 

Since the PRC launched its saliva RT-PCR tests in late January,  it has served around 9, 650 individuals.

 
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