By Excel V. Dyquiangco
The Philippines recently saw a new dawn in the health care industry when President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill or Republic Act No 11223 that entitles all Filipino citizens health care coverage and prescribes complementary reforms in the health care system.
According to Senator Nancy Binay, co-author of the bill, Filipino families must be afforded a safety net in times of dire need.
“This is why I am proud to cosponsor the Universal Health Care Bill,” she says. “One of the main provisions in the bill is every Filipino’s automatic inclusion into the National Health Insurance Program. Through this provision, we seek to protect people from the financial burden of paying out of their own pockets. It reduces the risk of people being pushed into poverty because it will help cushion the impact of having to use the family’s savings or of borrowing money to pay for health care services.”
This was echoed by Senator Joel Villanueva, co-author of the bill, who says, “This means that all Filipinos can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose them to financial hardship.”
In the first half of 2019, the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will come out with the operational guidelines in implementing the act and the World Health Organization (WHO) can contribute however it can, wherever appropriate.
But for people with diabetes, how does the UHC benefit them?
Like what the bill states, the law provides all Filipino citizens with health care coverage, and this includes free consultations, lab tests and diagnostic services for people with diabetes. But of course, not everything is for free especially when a patient is required to stay overnight at a hospital room that offers private accommodation, air conditioning, telephone and television, and meal choices, among others.
However, there are some hospitals which are expected to allocate a certain portion of their beds as free accommodations.
• Government hospitals – at least 90 percent of beds
• Specialty hospitals – at least 70 percent of beds
• Private hospitals – at least 10 percent of beds
These basic accommodations – either in a private or a public hospital – are covered by PhilHealth.
Meanwhile, if the patient needs to pay extra or what is on top of the basic services, the law states that this should be regulated by the Department of Health (DOH) in public hospitals. This means that you should know what to expect when your bill arrives, as opposed to getting the shock of your life.
Presently, PhilHealth covers the following tests for diabetic patients: Complete blood count, urinalysis, fecalysis, sputum microscopy, fasting blood sugar, lipid profile, chest x-ray, but within the next two years, through the UHC, it is expected that the DOH and the PhilHealth will craft and implement basic outpatient services covered by the National Health Insurance Programs.
Through the UHC, costs of diabetic medicines are expected to lower as these can now be bought in bulk.D