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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

PhilHealth set to decide on benefit increase

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The board of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will meet on Dec. 14 to decide on expanding its coverage and increasing benefit packages by 10 percent to 30 percent across the board.

PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. told lawmakers that the agency was mulling over an across-the-board increase of 10 percent to 30 percent in benefit packages.

The proposal received the go-signal from PhilHealth’s executive committee and was awaiting approval from the board.

Rep. Wilbert T Lee, (AGRI Party-List), a member of the House of Representatives committee on appropriations and part of the majority bloc, welcomed the development.

Lee, who advocated for higher PhilHealth’s benefit packages, described the pending increase in benefits the “best gift that our kababayans will be able to use for the rest of their lives: better healthcare.”

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Lee, in a letter to PhilHealth on Oct. 23, 2023, recommended a 20-percent to 30-percent across-the-board increase in all benefit packages and coverage, saying “our countrymen constantly worry about getting sick because of the high costs of quality medical care.”

“This Christmas, let’s give our countrymen peace of mind, let’s give them the assurance that if they get sick, PhilHealth will cover their expenses,” said Lee.

Lee on October 26 filed House Resolution 1407, urging PhilHealth to update and increase its coverage by 20 percent to 30 percent. He said the agency’s rate “is no longer responsive to the hospitalization cost of the beneficiaries.”

PhilHealth earlier assured its members that even without implementing a hike in member contribution, the planned increase in most of its benefit packages next year would push through.

“The increase in members’ benefits in PhilHealth is not dependent on the scheduled contribution rate in 2024. Even if the hike in contribution rate takes effect or not next year, the planned adjustment in benefit packages will proceed,” said Rey Baleña, acting vice president of PhilHealth’s corporate affairs group.

The PhilHealth board is composed of 11 members. It is chaired by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa. Its members include Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.

Lee earlier welcomed PhilHealth’s efforts to comply with its commitment to settle its debts with hospitals. PhilHealth had settled debts amounting to P31 billion from August to November 2023, according to Ledesma.

Lee, during the DOH budget briefing in September this year, said he had received numerous complaints about the agency’s debts to hospitals despite PhilHealth’s P466- billion worth of investible funds and a P68.4-billion net income,

“As I always emphasize, our role in government is to lighten the load of our constituents,” said Lee.

“By paying these hospitals and increasing the benefits of PhilHealth members, we are giving a truly meaningful Christmas gift to millions of Filipinos: quality affordable healthcare… ,” he added.

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