Yesterday, Feb. 20, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act in an effort to “make a positive impact in the lives of our people”.
With the signing, all Filipino citizens shall be covered by PhilHealth, which will be designated as the national purchaser for health goods and service, including free medical consultations and laboratory tests. Another reform to be seen under the UHC is the improvement of the country’s health facilities, especially in undeserved areas.
“By automatically [enrolling] our citizens into the National Health Insurance Program, the Universal Healthcare Law will guarantee equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all Filipinos,” said Duterte.
Approval from DoH
The aforementioned reforms will respond to the evident gap in health workers, the strategic engagement of the private sector, and prompt the Department of Health (DoH) to creative & expand new functions in order to improve health service deliveries.
The DOH also welcomed the signing of UHC, saying the new law will also shift the health system’s current treatment-oriented approach toward a more balanced approach emphasizing prevention and health promotion.
The UHC’s operations will help protect people from disease, empower individuals and communities to maintain good health, and supports effective management of illness and disability.
Source of funding
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that the government will be able to find a source to fund the implementation of the new law after the DOH said it still needs P40 billion to implement the UHC in its first year.
“Gradual ang implementation, pero mayroon pa namang ano (The implementation would be gradual but)… there are many ways to augment the resources. I’m sure our government will know how to source funds in accordance with the Constitution,” said Panelo.
He added that increasing the contribution for PhilHealth is one idea that the government is open to exploring. “Pag-aaralan lahat iyan kung ano ang makakabuti sa ating mga kababayan kaugnay sa kanilang kalusugan (We will look into every idea that can promote the welfare of our citizens, especially their health),” he said.
A version of this story was posted on Manila Bulletin.