PhilHealth subsidy to reach P80B in 2022
MANILA, Philippines — With his heightened awareness of health issues, Juan dela Cruz will have no choice but to cough up P75 billion to P80 billion in subsidies to save the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) despite official findings of corruption and mismanagement under the Duterte administration.
This, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, was how much Filipino taxpayers would have to pay in 2022 just so he could have some medical insurance during the pandemic that has plagued the world for over three years.
“We are committed to the successful implementation of the universal health-care plan,” Dominguez told reporters although there was no certainty he would still be finance secretary after June 30, 2022, the last day of the Duterte administration.
Dominguez made the remark after he was asked to update the measures taken to address the warning of financial think tank Fitch Solutions last August that “due to diversion of health-care funds, PhilHealth might not meet the medical coverage goal.”
Arrears to hospitals
“PhilHealth still has around P164.1 billion in its reserve fund as of June 2021, so universal health care will not be compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dominguez assured PhilHealth’s 52.53 million members.
“They are, at the moment, struggling with their own systems to pay off their current debts,” referring to PhilHealth’s arrears to hospitals, resulting in a P25.5-billion deficit during the first half of 2021.
But the subsidy paid by taxpayers “amply” covered the deficit and the state corporation was “still very viable on a cash-flow basis.”
“I believe they can handle the situation for at least a couple of months more,” Dominguez said, apparently referring to the need for an increase in members’ contributions.
As of end-June this year, PhilHealth’s 52.53 million members (31.18 million direct contributors plus 21.35 million indirect contributors among indigents and senior citizens, and 42.27 million were dependents) paid for the health insurance of 94.79 million Filipinos.
Since 2014, PhilHealth has received the biggest amount of subsidy among all government-owned or -controlled corporations.
The latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed that the subsidies that PhilHealth received as of end-August totaled P76.1 billion, or more than half of the P136.7 billion distributed to government corporations during the eight-month period.
This year, subsidies to PhilHealth have already exceeded the P71.4 billion allocated under the P4.51-trillion 2021 national budget.
In the proposed P5.02-trillion 2022 budget, an P80-billion allocation to cover premium subsidies for indirect contributors was allocated, Dominguez noted.
Last week, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country’s total health expenditure—health spending and investments combined—climbed 10.4 percent to a record P1.004 trillion last year, equivalent to 5.6 percent of gross domestic product. INQ
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