The Good News

Health model pushes affordable healthcare

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Access to affordable, if not free, healthcare in the Philippines has long been a problem despite the existence of the state-owned health insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp., or Philhealth.

Thankfully, some local government units have been wise to adopt a health care model that has improved access to affordable health care.

This, according to the non-government think-tank Action for Economic Reforms (AER), is dubbed as the Petilla Health Model, named after former Energy Secretary and Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla. It enabled the province of Leyte to hurdle age-old challenges in its local health system by tapping previouslyunderutilized resources from Philhealth.

These include the enhancement of government-owned hospitals, the retention of doctors in public health facilities, and increased access to health services.

“Access to Philhealth benefits first necessitates access to accredited facilities. This fact was recognized by Leyte’s LGU officials and authorities of Philhealth Region VIII. So to attain accreditation of more facilities, close coordination between the local officials and the regional Philhealth office was established. Together, they identified the needs and addressed the problems that hampered the development of the health facilities in the province,” AER said in a paper on the Petilla Health Model.

This scheme tapped Philhealth funds to improve the quality of health facilities and increased the number of hospitals that enabled members to better access their entitled benefits.

Another benefit of the Petilla Health Model was that it was able to retain doctors in public facilities.Leyte was able to do this by using underutilized funds from Philhealth.

The AER said doctors were induced to stay in public facilities since working outside government-owned hospitals would result in higher foregone revenues. Better returns for rendering medical services also prompted the doctors to prioritize service provision over other options.

“By making service in public facilities an optimal choice for doctors, the availability of service providers expanded in the province,” AER said.

AER said the scheme that involves coordination, information, simplicity of rules, innovative use of resources, and incentives can be an effective guide for other local governments to follow.

Unknown to many, Petilla is an advocate of affordable health care, an advocacy he institutionalized during his tenure as governor of Leyte, which he served for three consecutive terms since 2004 prior to his appointment as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE).

“My advocacy is to make sure a hospital operates and is able to collect from Philhealth and service the people without them having to pay the balance in their billings,” he said in an interview with The STAR.

He lamented that when an indigent gets sick and goes to a public hospital, he still has to shell out a huge amount of money.

“If you go to East Avenue, for example, you could be asked to pay P35,000, but the idea is even for P35,000, you shouldn’t be made to pay. Is that possible? Of course,” he said.

The technique is to make a hospital run by a governor of a province without that governor spending for the doctor and yet the doctor is properly compensated, Petilla said.

 AER hopes that the Petilla Health Model would be fine-tuned and replicated throughout the country.

Petilla, who served as the 11th Secretary of the post-Marcos Department of Energy, is known among industry stakeholders to be a consumer-oriented Energy chief, going against power bullies to keep electricity affordable and accessible to consumers. He is now running for the Senate under the Daang Matuwid coalition.












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