PhilHealth to shoulder COVID-19 testing costs – Nograles
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) would shoulder the costs for the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests, a senior Palace official announced Wednesday.
According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, COVID-19 tests in hospitals would be covered by the state health insurance firm on top of the coverage cost for quarantine and confinement.
He said PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales informed him that the agency is now in the process of formalizing and operationalizing the new benefit.
“Given this, the last thing we want is for our citizens to worry about medical costs and expenses. Their only concern should be their well-being and the well-being of their families,” Nograles, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.
The increasing count of people infected with COVID-19 in the country likewise led to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a state of public health emergency.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named SARS-CoV-2.
The epicenter of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak was in China’s Wuhan City, Hubei province, and since late 2019 the virus has infected over 110,000 and killed more than 3,000 in mainland China.
The virus causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but can cause serious illness such as pneumonia for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.
UP-made test kit set for field validation
Nograles, at the same time, said the government is “fast-tracking” the deployment of additional test kits to quickly identify and isolate those infected by the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration earlier allowed the use of test kits developed by local scientists at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH).
According to Nograles, the rapid diagnostic test kit is now set for a field validation study.
“At this point, they just need to conduct validation of 500 tests for COVID-19 to enable them to conduct clinical sensitivity analysis as a pre-condition set by the FDA. Once it passes the clinical tests, the FDA will grant full access by all hospitals, as guided by the DOH,” he said.
Some private hospitals have also signified their intention to join the field validation, Nograles revealed, adding that NIH is hoping to secure by Friday the approval of the ethics committee for field validation testing.
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