5.2M Pinoy families have no health insurance – Sec. Ona

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/12 July) — Some 5.2 million families in the country have not enrolled with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona said here Tuesday.

Ona said this is the reason for the holding of the summit of health care professionals here for the “Universal Health Care” program of the DOH to extend the public insurance coverage to the “poorest of the poor” in the country.

“Everyone, especially the poor, should have been enrolled with PhilHealth in 2010. That’s why we have this program specifically to expand enrolment with PhilHealth and for the improvement of health care availability and health facilities,” said Ona, who spoke at the summit’s opening rites.

The secretary added that the national government will pay the premiums of these 5.2 million families.

He said that in the national budget, P3.5 billion has been allocated to DOH to subsidize the payment of PhilHealth premiums of the identified 5.2 million families.

He explained that because of the devolution of the department in the past administration they had direct authority down to the regional health offices only.

“That’s why, through this program, we have to reconnect with the local government units: the cities and provinces,” Ona said.

The main reason for the low enrolment with the public health insurance coverage is the absence of a nationwide database on the number of destitute families and the fact that screening was done by the provincial and city governments, he said.

“While there is no problem with that, there is a tendency to accommodate only the ‘politically poor’ families,” he added.

Ona said less than 900,000 families screened by the local government units as destitute matched the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System.

“The DSWD’s National Household Targeting System recorded some 5.2 million families while less than 900,000 matched with the database compared to LGU’s screened as poor families,” he said.

“Cities and provinces should not only be aware of this program but to also support the program by allocating funds. As you know, health care is not only the national government’s problem but also of the LGUs. It is important for a (healthy) partnership between LGU and national government,” the secretary said. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)