THE Department of Health is being “overly dependent” on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and has become remiss in its obligations to the Filipino people, according to a health advocacy group.
“The government has the responsibility to provide all opportunities for a meaningful health intervention and health outcome,” said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, secretary-general of the Health Alliance for Democracy, adding the DoH relies too much on PhilHealth.
Since PhilHealth is just a government corporation, it is still the DoH which is mandated by law to provide health services since they also receive tax monies from Filipinos.
“[PhilHealth] is still a financial, insurance system. With an insurance system, the government is still out of it,” Carabeo said, adding that PhilHealth is almost always concerned with financial sustainability than providing services to people.
“You don’t start giving health services by delimiting yourself with financial concerns,” he said.
He said that proofs of these are the existence of guidelines in availing of the case rates to maximize the expenses and achieve sustainability by aiming for collection and more profits from the venture.
He also said that in actual scenarios in hospitals, the poor are spending more through out-of-pocket expenses or make the people pay more for their health services.
“The fact that we are still spending, what do we actually get from PhilHealth?,” he asked.
As an example, he said if one is hospitalized due to gastroenteritis, the requirement to avail of the reimbursement for the said case rates is confinement of at least three days.
He said that in that period, other expenses are being spent by the patient because if there is no available intravenous fluid, the patient’s companions/relatives are forced to buy it outside the hospital.
“So that forms part of the out-of-pocket expenses,” Carabeo said, adding that selective and limited services is resulting to a situation wherein people have to pay for their health services.
In addition, he also mentioned that expenses on medicines also add up to the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by patients.
“In Cuba, there are no out-of-the-pocket expenses for the people. You don’t have to demand health services. It’s a regular thing. That’s how beautiful it is there,” he said.
“The simplest thing that the government can bring back to the people is services on their health,” he stressed.
The objection is made in line with the drastic reduction of P38.9 billion in the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and Capital Outlay allocations in the proposed 2017 DoH budget.
The said budget proposal opts to increase separate government subsidy to PhilHealth by P50.1 billion, up from P43.8 billion this year or with an increase of P6.26 billion.
MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses), on the other hand, is decreased by P36.4 billion because from the 2016 budget of P74.4 billion, the proposed budget becomes P38 billion.
“The direct effect will be diminishing the supply of medicines, money to buy health apparatus…The budget cut can result to lack of enough budget for maintenance and repair…If the apparatus will not be functional, there will be long line-up…As a way to earn for the needed amount for repair, the hospital then will be forced to seek additional fees from the patients which will be disadvantageous to them,” Dr. Carabeo said.