Pregnant women now enrolled in PhilHealth

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With the new law on the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) signed by President Aquino, pregnant women will be automatically enrolled in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Alex Padilla, Philhealth vice president and chief operating officer, said that Republic Act 10606 or the National Health Insurance Act of 2013 covers all pregnant women regardless if they were members or not before the pregnancy.

“That’s one of the new provisions in the law… I think before, up to four pregnancies (of a woman) were covered. But now all (pregnancies) are covered,” Padilla told The STAR.

Under Sec. 21 of the law, “the annual premium for the coverage of unenrolled women who are about to give birth shall be fully borne by the national government and/or local governments and/or legislative sponsor.”

RA 10606 has amended Republic Act 7875 or the National Health Insurance Act of 1995.

Padilla said that under the new law, PhilHealth premium of all Filipinos certified as “poorest of the poor” by National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the Department of Social Welfare and Development shall be shouldered by the national government.

The budget for this sector will be included in the budget allocation of PhilHealth under the General Appropriations Act.

Under the old law, the national government and the local government units where certain indigent families live share for the payment of their premium.

“Now, it will all be shouldered by the national government. But the sharing (system) still applies in other sectors,” Padilla explained.

The new law provides for the mandatory coverage of all Filipinos but priority will be given to the underprivileged, sick, elderly, persons with disabilities, women and children.

The law also states that “the program shall be compulsory in all provinces, cities, municipalities nationwide, notwithstanding the existence of local government unit-based health insurance programs.”

Cayetano lauds Noy for signing law

Senator Pia Cayetano lauded President Aquino for signing the new PhilHealth law.

“No one should be left behind. With this new law, we seek to identify and enroll the poorest segments of the population, numbering about 25 million Filipinos, under the National Health Insurance Program,” said Cayetano, the sponsor of the measure and the chair of the Senate committee on health and demography.

“In the past, there was a gap in the law because the poorest of the poor were not covered by PhilHealth unless their local government units or their Congressmen sponsored the payment of their premiums. Only those who could afford to pay the premiums were able to benefit from PhilHealth and these would primarily be the formally employed,” she added.

Cayetano also lamented that many local government units do not have the capacity to sponsor the PhilHealth enrollment of their poor constituents, while others do not see this as a priority at all.

“And so we were left with a situation where the poor were, by-and-large, left out of the national health insurance system when they should be its primary beneficiaries,” she said.

But the new law, she said, would address the shortcoming in the implementation of the original PhilHealth law by ensuring that the poorest of the poor, including the indigents, unemployed, self-employed, and those from the informal sector, would be enrolled in PhilHealth and would actually benefit from its programs and services.– With Marvin Sy                   


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