A landmark bill was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte that guarantees all Filipinos equal access to quality and affordable goods and services in healthcare.
The President signed the Universal Health Care Act during a ceremony in Malacañang.
It is under the law that all Filipino citizens are automatically enrolled into National Health Insurance Program as direct contributors or those who have the capacity to pay premiums. Also, the indirect contributors sponsored by the government such as indigents and senior citizens.
Under the proposed 2019 national budget, 217 billion pesos was the only appropriations given even though the funding requirement is 247 billion pesos.
The funding gap of 40 billion pesos would mean not all hospitals or health centers as envisioned under the law would be constructed.Healrh Secretary Francisco Duque III
Duque said that the construction of barangay health units in fourth to sixth class municipalities would be prioritized, so patients would not have to visit hospitals for minor ailments.
Free consultation fees, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services is included in the expansion of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth coverage as mandated by law.
PhilHealth is tax-exempt and attached to the Department of Health because it is a government-owned and controlled corporation. In 1995, PhilHealth was created to implement universal health coverage in the country.
The premium subsidy will be gradually adjusted and included in the General Appropriations Act so Filipinos who are not enrolled in PhilHealth could still benefit from health care services.
An improved doctor-to-patient ratio, upgrade of hospital bed capacities, equipment and the establishment of hospitals in remote areas will be expected as stated by the law.