GOVERNMENT MUST BEEF UP MEDICAL FACILITIES FOR WIDER HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
Senator Francis Escudero said the government should improve the facilities and services in public hospitals and health clinics across the country, if it expects the universal health coverage plan under the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to work.
The senator, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Finance, said P13.5 billion and P13.2 billion were allocated in 2014 and 2015, respectively, for the government’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) under the Department of Health (DOH).
Through the HFEP, rural health units, barangay health stations and local government-run hospitals should be able to acquire the necessary equipment and hire highly trained health professionals that would make them more responsive to the population’s health needs.
The HFEP would also help them meet the accreditation requirements of PhilHealth, which would allow more indigents to seek treatment in public health care facilities.
“If the government is really serious about the health of its people, it needs to properly equip public health facilities, especially in areas where local governments do not have sufficient budget for health spending,” Escudero said.
Unfortunately, many health institutions still lack equipment such as X-ray and ultrasound machines, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, electrocardiogram (ECG) machines and ventilators.
Some remote areas do not even have doctors.
“Implementing a universal health coverage plan without making sure that there are enough facilities and quality health workers means spending a lot of money with little chance of better health results, especially for the most marginalized sectors of society,” Escudero said.
“That would render the national health insurance program useless,” he said.
Providing government hospitals with better facilities, equipment and proficient staff are the keys to improving the quality of health care in the country, which is the main goal of the national health insurance program, the senator pointed out.
However, with public health facilities still unaccredited by PhilHealth, many PhilHealth members seek treatment in private hospitals, where they are forced to shell out more money to pay their bills.
Last year, PhilHealth made a total of P78 billion in benefit payments, 23 percent of which went to private hospitals and clinics.
Some 90 million Filipinos are enrolled in PhilHealth. Of this, 43 million are indigent members and their dependents./MP