Archive for September, 2010

Philhealth for Cancer Outpatients Urged

Posted on September 24, 2010. Filed under: News |

Written by Sara Susanne D. Fabunan / Correspondent
Published in Business Mirror
Thursday, 23 September 2010 13:28

A GROUP of cancer-patient groups on Thursday urged the government to expand the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) by including benefits for Filipino outpatients.

In a press conference, Cancer Warriors Foundation (CWF) executive director James Auste said President Aquino’s commitment to increase the coverage of health-insurance members won’t be complete if the government will not implement benefits for outpatients.

He said from the 45 percent of Filipinos who availed themselves of PhilHealth benefits last year, 25 percent had not consulted a doctor during illness and 90 percent are outpatients.

“Most of these [treatments] are out-of-pocket expenses by the family of the afflicted. Universal coverage can be meaningless if the benefit package is curative in nature. For PhilHealth to be aligned with the Health department’s battle cry, it should focus on preventive approaches. There should be a benefit package for outpatient and maintenance medication for people stricken with chronic diseases,” Auste said in a press conference in Manila.

Auste said 65 percent of children who suffer from cancer are all outpatients.

“PhilHealth covers only those patients who are hospitalized, and those cancer patients who are admitted to hospital are those who [already have] a terminal condition,” he lamented.

 By way of example, he said the treatment for children with leukemia costs about P13,000 a month, excluding the expenses for antibiotics in other infectious illnesses.

According to CWF, of the 3,500 Filipino children diagnosed with cancer, 2,500 die yearly, mainly because “they have no money to buy medicines.” In contrast, in the US and other developed countries, eight out of 10 kids diagnosed with cancer survive. “In the Philippines, eight out of 10 die, only two survive, because the drugs are expensive and the poor have no money for these,” Auste said in an interview.

Benefits for outpatients, that PhilHealth must include, he said, are consultation fee, dental fee, blood test, diagnostic test and medication.

Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network (3CPNet) spokesman Salvacion Basiano also said PhilHealth accounts for only 12 percent to 15 percent of the country’s total health-care expenditure, while out-of-pocket expenses account for almost 60 percent and the rest is covered by private health-service institutions.

3CPNet reported that an average spending for health care per household is P5,874, way above the poverty threshold of P4,835.

“A significant number of daily wage earners suffering from diabetes or hypertension could not comply with their regular medication because these are not covered by PhilHealth, and they’d rather spend their hard-earned income for their family’s food on the table,” Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo convener Ludy Casaña said.

Their group also asked the PhilHealth to implement the cost-containment measure of the cheaper medicine law.

The coalition wants to initiate dialogues to improve its partnership with and among government agencies, the private sector and civil-society groups on the maldistribution of health resources, low quality of government facilities, underinvestment, and the health expenditures being dominated by out-of-pocket payments. 

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