‘Hoy gising!’ : PH Red Cross calls out DOH, PhilHealth for snail-paced action on inclusion of saliva test in benefit package

Published March 7, 2021, 8:35 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Senator Richard Gordon insisted Sunday, March 7, that the saliva reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test should be urgently included in the benefit package of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

(Photo by Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

He lambasted the officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and the PhilHealth for its snail-paced action on the PRC’s request to include the saliva test in the PhilHealth’s benefit package.

“Mas mura na itong saliva test na inaprubahan na ng DOH. Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit hindi pa nila kinocover dapat sila ang magfollow up kasi mas mura na mabibigay na bayad kaysa dun sa tinatawag na P3,409. Pero hanggang ngayon mabagal, ay naku, hoy gising kayo dyan (This saliva test approved by the DOH is cheaper. I don’t understand why they are not covering it, they should follow it up because the test can be availed at a lower price than the P3,409 [package]. But, until now, they are slow..Hey there, wake up,” Gordon told TeleRadyo in an interview.

“Alam mo wala silang sense of urgency (You know, they don’t have sense of urgency),” he said.

PhilHealth members cannot take advantage of PRC’s saliva COVID-19 PCR test because it is not yet included in the state health insurer’s benefit package. The DOH Health Technology Assessment Council has yet to give its nod for saliva test’s public use.

“Kasi dapat malilibre kung papayagan ng Health Technology Assessment Council. Pagpinayagan ‘yan, malilibre ‘yan , mas makakamura pa ang gobyerno (It should be free if the Health Technology Assessment Council allows it. Once it is allowed, it is for free, and the government can save),” he said.

Currently, PhilHealth benefits for swab COVID test package range from P901 to P3,409 as stipulated in its Circular No. 2020-0017.

The PRC has so far conducted almost 30,000 saliva tests, Gordon said.