Lapid bill seeks transparency in patient’s medical bills

Published August 3, 2021, 12:22 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid on Tuesday, August 3 filed a bill which seeks to enhance the ability of patients to choose the healthcare that is best for them by allowing them to make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, and the price and quality of a good service in advance.

Lapid’s measure, Senate Bill 2334, known as “Medical Bill Transparency Act’’, requires hospitals and health care providers to be more transparent by informing the patients about actual prices to help prevent “surprise billing” or patients receiving unexpected bills at inflated prices.

Despite the existence of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, the Philippine health care system still has not fully addressed this issue in the medical pricing aspect, such as transparency of medical expenses or bills, Lapid explained.

According to the 2012 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the out-of-pocket health expenditures increased by 150 percent from 2000 to 2012.

These high healthcare costs push Filipino households into poverty, Lapid pointed out.

The bill also seeks to ensure that patients have the necessary information in choosing the healthcare they want and need.

Lapid’s bill also wants to eliminate unnecessary barriers to price and quality transparency; to increase the availability of meaningful price and quality information to patients; to enhance patient’s control over their own healthcare resources, including health insurance coverage.

The measure also states that the Department of Health (DOH) secretary shall craft regulations consistent with applicable law, to require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information. This will include charges and information based on negotiated rates for common items and services, in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format.

The bill also pushes for transparency in health insurance coverage.

Here, the Secretaries of Health and Finance departments shall jointly issue regulations requiring healthcare providers, health insurance issuers, and self-insured group health plans to provide or facilitate access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs for items or services to patients before they receive care.

The Department of Finance (DOF) secretary shall issue guidance to expand the ability of patients to select health insurance plans that cover low-cost preventive care, and/or medical care for individuals with chronic conditions.