Charity wards to stay—DOHBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The health department has clarified that charity wards in government hospitals will not be removed totally, as the government will cover all Filipinos under its universal healthcare program and eventually abandon the old “dole-out system” of healthcare.
Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa and Philippine Health Insurance chief executive officer and president Dr. Eduardo Banzon explained this at a Malacañang press briefing yesterday as controversy has erupted over the government’s announcement of the imminent conversion of the charity wards to PhilHealth wards.
Herbosa explained that under the administration’s universal healthcare system, all government hospitals will accept poor patients enrolled with PhilHealth on a “no balance billing” basis and just bill PhilHealth for all the medical expenses incurred by the indigent patients.
“We want the charity ward or dole-out concept to disappear because we’ve enrolled the poorest Filipinos in PhilHealth,” he said.
He said that at present, 80 percent of 90-million Filipinos are enrolled as PhilHealth members.
The government sponsors the healthcare of 5.2 million of the poorest households in the country, which translates to 20-million Filipinos who will have free health coverage, he said.
However, the charity wards in government hospitals will continue because “there are still patients who may be in and out of the insurance system,” said Herbosa.
He said the Department of Health also hopes that private hospitals will eventually participate in the “no balance billing” scheme, noting that under the law, private hospitals are required to reserve 10 percent of their beds for charity.