The number of dengue cases may be higher than the Health Department is reporting if claims from the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. are any indication, Senator Ralph Recto said Wednesday.
“If we use the PhilHealth data, then the epidemic is graver than what is widely believed,” Recto said.=
While the Department of Health has reported 106,630 cases from January to June, PhilHealth has received 174,000 claims, or a difference of 70,000, he said.
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Even if the trajectory is lower in the second half, the country is looking at more than 300,000 cases by the end of the year, Recto added.
The senator said the disparity in figures could be explained by the fact that some dengue patients are admitted twice.
“But whether it is the figure from DOH or from PhilHealth, the number is alarming,” he said.
Dengue, he said, could have a “hemorrhagic effect” on the finances of both DOH and PhilHealth if the number of those affected hits epidemic proportions.
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In 2018, PhilHealth paid P2.44 billion to settle more than 252,000 dengue hospitalization claims. But for the first half of the year, it has already processed P1.7 billion worth of claims or 71 percent of what it paid out for the entire 2018.
The state insurer has three “benefit” rates for dengue cases, with a maximum coverage of P10,000 for “Dengue I”; P16,000 for “Dengue II”; and P7,000 for “Non-Severe Dengue.”
Recto said the DOH “might need some budgetary infusion” if the cost of preventive and curative protocols to contain the epidemic and treat patients prove beyond DOH’s financial capacity.
He urged DOH to tap its P500-million Quick Response Fund in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund so it can “intensify its response to this public health emergency.”
He added that the DOH should also impose a moratorium on nonessential and postponable meetings, training in hotels and redirect the funding for these to the dengue control effort.
According to the Commission on Audit, the DOH spent about P2.2 billion for travel and training in 2017.
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