With the onset of the election period, the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday warned the public to be wary of candidates distributing PhilHealth cards in order to bolster their popularity.
In a speech during the flag-raising ceremony at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. central office in Pasig City, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the state insurance firm must ensure that health cards are not used for political purposes.
“I would like to remind everyone that the elections are just around the corner. Let us be careful that the distribution of cards is not used in political campaigns,” said Ona, now also the acting president and CEO of PhilHealth following the resignation of Dr. Eduardo Banzon last week.
Ona said an agreement was reached during a PhilHealth operations meeting last week that the distribution of health cards shall be strictly coordinated with the DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“The distribution of cards shall not be endorsed to local politicians,” he said.
National and local candidates vying for 18,053 elective positions are expected to employ various tactics to bolster their campaigns.
While the election period started on Jan. 13, national candidates can only begin campaigning on Feb. 12 and local candidates on March 30.
Under the Aquino administration, the government health agency is aiming for universal health care, which means full coverage of the entire population by this year.
Ona noted that while PhilHealth reported to President Aquino last year before his state of the nation address that 85 percent of Filipinos were enrolled in the health program, only 30 to 40 percent of hospital admissions had insurance coverage.
“Clearly, there is a discrepancy between the membership coverage that we have reported and what is really happening at the point of care,” said Ona.