PhilHealth asked to restore no cost limit for COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines —Two lawmakers on Thursday called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to restore its no cost limit for treating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez made the call after PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales released a new case rate package for COVID-19 patients who will be hospitalized starting April 15.
The move, Rodriguez said, will put the poor at a disadvantage and might push them to not consult with hospitals for fear of additional expenses.
“I am worried of the poor and even the middle class who certainly cannot afford hospitalization and medicines which, based on the account of some who have recovered from the disease, can run to more than a million pesos,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
Morales earlier announced that Philhealth will shoulder the hospital expenses of all COVID-19 patients in the country.
On Tuesday, however, Morales said that while PhilHealth has sufficient funds, a new case rate package for COVID-19 patients is needed to ensure sustainability.
A case rate package sets the maximum amount that PhilHealth will shoulder for a patient for a certain ailment. This means that if the total expenses exceeds the set rate, the patient has to shoulder the excess amount.
The new package divides patients into four categories, depending on the gravity of their condition.
Coverage for mild pneumonia is set at P43,997, moderate pneumonia at P143,267, severe pneumonia at P333,519, and critical pneumonia at P786,384.
Rodriguez, however, said that “the poor and even the middle class cannot pay the excess of the limits set by Morales.”
“I refuse to imagine what could happen to them (the poor),” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro argued that PhilHealth must still cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 patients in accordance to Sec. 4(b) of RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
Under the said provision, Congress authorized President Duterte to “expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing by pubic and designated private institutions of PUIs and PUMs, and the compulsory and immediate isolation and treatment of patients: Provided, that the cost of treatment for COVID-19 patients shall be covered under the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.”
“The COVID-19 virus knows no deadline and won’t hesitate from infecting people after April 14 even April 30 or until government take necessary steps in stopping the spread of the virus,” Castro said.
“Coverage of testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients should not end until April 14 especially since we do not see the COVID -19 pandemic to end then,” she added.
As of April 8, the Department of Health (DOH) said there are 3,870 COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll at 182.
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