DOH wants PhilHealth eyeglasses subsidy for seniors, children
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is working with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for coverage by the state health insurer of an eyeglasses subsidy for children and senior citizens with eye problems.
According to Maria Sylvia Uy, head of the DOH’s Prevention of Blindness Program, the department wants PhilHealth to cover the provision of eyeglasses as a way to ensure that Filipinos get a more comprehensive eye-care service, especially with the implementation of the Universal Health Care Program.
Currently, PhilHealth only covers the screening, consultation fee and cost of surgery for such eye problems as cataract and glaucoma.
P500 per patient
Under the new system and package the DOH is developing, Uy said that once a child or elderly goes to the health center and is found to be suffering from an error of refraction (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), the patient will be referred to an accredited optometrist.
PhilHealth will shoulder the cost of the eyeglasses, which is being set at P500 per patient, Uy said.
According to the recent Philippine National Survey of Blindness and Eye Disease Study, there are nearly 400,000 Filipinos with uncorrected errors of refraction. Some 3.4 million had undiagnosed errors of refraction.
The DOH is giving priority to kindergarten-age children and senior citizens for the eyeglasses subsidy because of the impact of untreated eye disorder on their lives, Uy said.
“It could have a negative impact on the academic performance of children. For senior citizens, they need [eyeglasses] because they are prone to falls,” she said.
Dr. Andreas Mueller, World Health Organization regional adviser, said providing eyeglasses was a way to deal with vision impairment, a condition affecting 2.2 billion people globally, of which 1 billion “could have been prevented.”
“So much vision loss is unnecessary. If we treat and find them early enough, we can treat them appropriately,” Mueller said.