Displaced workers assured of free health services

Published by rudy Date posted on February 14, 2009

Workers who have been displaced by the global financial crisis may avail themselves of free health services courtesy of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

All the workers have to do is register with the Labor Department, which in turn will refer them to the local government unit that has jurisdiction on them, PhilHealth executive vice president Lorna Fajardo said at a press conference in Quezon City yesterday.

The local government units are mandated to shoulder the workers’ payment for the premiums to PhilHealth, Fajardo said.

The free health services are among the package of measures the administration and the private sector wrapped up at a job summit Wednesday, to mitigate the impact of the global crisis on Filipino workers, including those who worked abroad.

“Since they have no more job, they can no longer pay their premiums,” said Fajardo.

These workers will now be joining the so-called “sponsored group” that includes the indigent and elderly whose premiums are being paid for by LGUs and the Priority Development Assistance Fund of congressmen.

But once a displaced worker finds a job, Fajardo said, the free health benefits he is getting from PhilHealth will be terminated.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Dr. Rey Aquino announced a 35-percent increase in the in-patient benefits package starting May 1, 2009.

PhilHealth is also preparing for a universal health coverage of all Filipinos by 2010.

“This means that 85 percent of the whole population will be covered by PhilHealth,” said Aquino as he noted that last year, 74 percent of the country’s population were covered by PhilHealth.

There are 61 million Filipinos covered by PhilHealth. The number includes 31 million employees from both the public and private sectors, 12.5 million self-employed individuals, 16.5 underprivileged families and almost 700,000 retirees and pensioners under their Lifetime Member program.

Aquino stressed that with the economic slowdown, there is more reason to enroll with PhilHealth.

For only P3.35 a day, PhilHealth members receive benefits that include hospitalization costs between P200 to P1,035 payment for room and board for hospitalization per illness, P1,500 to P35,655 worth of medicines, P350 to P29,450 worth of laboratory and diagnostic procedures.

The cost of surgery, particularly the use of an operating room, is also offset by PhilHealth, and doctors’ fees ranging from P150 a day for general practitioners to P450 a day for specialists.

Dr. Madeleine Valera, vice president for Health Finance Policy Sector, said the increase in benefits also amounts to quality services of accredited providers.

Since the increase covers only in-patients, Valera said PhilHealth is also studying ways to increase benefits of out-patients without increasing premiums.–Macon Ramos Araneta, Manila Standard Today

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