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DOH warns: No free medicines for PhilHealth beneficiaries next year if UHC lacks funding

buddywbuddyw PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐

DOH warns: No free medicines for PhilHealth beneficiaries next year if UHC lacks funding

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 30) — The Department of Health (DOH) has warned on Wednesday that if there is a funding gap in the Universal Health Care (UHC) program, it would not be able to immediately expand the primary care benefits of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) beneficiaries. PhilHealth is an attached agency of the health department, which manages the National Health Insurance Program.

Health Undersecretary Rolando Domingo made the statement during a Malacañang briefing on Wednesday.

Domingo said the government “won’t be able to expand the outpatient benefit packages of PhilHealth” if revenue collection targets from higher tobacco and alcohol taxes are not met, meaning the state health insurer could not subsidize the medical check-up and medicines of its indigent and sponsored members.

"Ang gusto kasi natin magkaroon ng outpatient benefit, meaning bawat Pilipino ma-assign sa isang primary health care doctor at ang kanyang regular check-up at ang kanyang maintenance ay matutustusan natin at ito talaga gusto natin i-fund," the official said.

[Translation: What we want is to assign every Filipino to primary health care doctor and to fund their regular check up and maintenance drugs.]

This is where 80 to 90 percent of taxes would go, he added. The bill seeking to increase excise taxes on alcohol products and taxes on heated tobacco and vapor products is still pending with Congress. Meanwhile, the measure aiming to further raise tobacco levies has been signed into law this year.

Domingo noted that the outpatient benefits for PhilHealth could only be used if a member is admitted to a hospital.

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales earlier said the state health insurer originally asked for P153 billion for the first phase of UHC implementation, but the Senate committee led by Sen Christopher “Bong” Go only approved P67 billion, arguing that other sources of funds such as sin taxes will be tapped to introduce new health reforms.

The DOH said it needed about P257 billion next year to shift to a primary health care system, which the World Health Organization said is the “most efficient and cost effective way to achieve universal health coverage around the world.”

Funds for the UHC law would also be sourced from the charity fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, income from the Philippine Gaming Corporation, members' contributions, the national budget for the DOH and government subsidies.

The implementation of the UHC program will push through on January 1, 2020 even with a limited budget, Morales said, adding that it will prioritize beneficiaries in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

He said that he is still unsure whether PhilHealth would have a funding gap, as negotiations for its budget are still ongoing, and that the agency is in the middle of a “brawl.”

The UHC law was enacted on February 20 this year. The implementing rules and regulations of the UHC Act was signed early this month.


  • CrusherCrusher PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    FIsca! Year usually begins on July 1. So, if properly budgeted there will be enough funding up to the end of June 2020!

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