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Aquino pushes expanded national health insurance program


President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Saturday that “the path towards universal health care does not start nor end with this event. Instead, our initiative today serves as an impetus to propel the health sector in achieving its goal of providing equitable and sustainable healthcare for every Filipino.”

Speaking at the Philhealth Sabado one-day registration for new members at the President Cory Aquino High School in Baseco Compound, Port Area, the President said his administration is committed to providing universal health care and expanding the access of the poor to healthcare benefits and cheaper medicines.

“Our movement for change depends on our ability to empower the vulnerable, and there is no better way of becoming part of this transformative agenda than to embrace our communal responsibility and safeguard the well-being of our people,” he said.

The President was joined at the Philhealth Sabado event by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Philhealth President/CEO Jesus Reynaldo Aquino and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

The President said confusing figures about the actual non-insured indigent population -- some saying 53 percent, some 80 percent and others at 30 percent -- prompted the Philhealth to come up with the one-day registration program called Philhealth Sabado of Oct. 2, 2010 to “make people aware of the benefits that await them for registering in the national insurance health program and who are qualified to such benefits.”

He lauded the Philhealth for coming up with a technical working group that will craft a program that gives a very concrete picture of the health insurance program and the population segment that still has to be covered.

“The listing of new members is just a small step to expanding the health insurance in the country,” the President said.

The President said his administration was committed to providing universal health care as its centerpiece of the health agenda.

“During my State of the Nation Address, I pledged to provide universal health coverage for 5 million poor Filipino families in 3 years, and our quest towards the fulfillment of that commitment starts today,” the President said.

Philhealth Sabado is a joint effort of the Departments of Health, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Local Government Units (LGUs) and various volunteer organizations aimed to promote public awareness of PhilHealth’s importance, responsibilities and benefits, and more importantly, to encourage the enrollment of the poorest of the poor in the country as identified by DSWD through the National Household Targeting System (NHTS).

The President said studies on the benefit delivery rate (BDR) of the National Health Insurance program was lamentably low at 8 percent, which means that for every 50 patients hospitalized only 4 knew of their rights and benefits under the health insurance program, or the accredited hospitals and actually receive reimbursements for their hospitalization and medical bills.

Only 50 percent of Philhealth members who enter private hospitals actually use their Philhealth cards while 24 percent of those who enter public hospitals and health centers do so, which means that even members are not aware of their rights, privileges, benefits and responsibilities under the Philhealth programs, he said.

He said it was not enough to register but the registrants must be involved in the programs of Philhealth to understand completely and avail of the benefits due them, the President said.

The President said he took home US$ 2.7 billion from his first foreign trip to the United States, the bulk of which would fund programs for the poor such as hospitals, cutting the cost of medicines and improving public services.

“With the joint efforts of Philhealth, DSWD, DILG and DEpEd, we will not stop providing benefits for the upliftment of Juan and Juana de la Cruz. With the help of local government units and private volunteer groups, we shall be able to provide Philhealth to 5 million poorest Filipinos,” the Chief Executive said.

After his speech and distributing some ID cards, the President walked to the health center and lingered awhile at the monument of his mother, President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino in the Baseco compound before riding at the front seat of his Toyota SUV. (PNA)

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