PhilHealth says agency will incur fund deficit till 2024



The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Tuesday said there will likely be a fund deficit  in the next four years based on the current COVID-19 scenario.

PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales said the state health insurer sees a price tag of P40.7 billion for COVID-19 financing it has to shoulder.

Morales’ statement was made during a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on Universal Health Care (UHC).

“This is what it will cost PhilHealth to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic for the entire year from February 2020 to January 2021,” Morales said.

“We will be running a deficit by the end of 2020 and we will be maintaining that deficit up to 2024,” he added as he showed a graph of the PhilHealth’s fund projection under the COVID-19 situation.

Morales also said that PhilHealth collections are going down amid the health crisis.

“To tell you the truth, our collection is about 10% of what it was last year. The collection from the direct contributors is not significant kasi walang negosyo, walang nagbabayad ng premium sa mga direct contributors, and yung indirect that also depends on business activity, has also suffered a downturn,” Morales said.

“So we are falling back on our reserve which we anticipate is going to take a hit,” he said.

During the same presentation, the PhilHealth chief also mentioned a P138-billion proposed subsidy for 2021 to cover indigent members, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and UHC expansion, among others.

Under the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the PhilHealth received a P71.35 billion subsidy—lower than its proposed P153 billion subsidy for the year.

Morales said the state insurer is also taking a “very prudent approach” regarding the delivery of new packages under the UHC.

Moving forward, Morales recommended a general delay on the implementation of the UHC as well as to postpone the expansion of the primary care benefit.

On the other hand, House committee on health chairperson Helen Tan said primary health care services are important, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ngayong may pandemic, marami tayong kababayan na hindi nakakakita ng doktor o hindi pumupunta sa health care facilities because of the fear so mas kailangan natin, ang paniniwala ko bilang doktor, mas kailangan natin sa panahong ito i-strengthen ‘yung primary care services,” she said.

“If we have better data, maybe we can start to introduce, later on, the primary healthcare packages, depends on how the COVID-19 pandemic can play out,” Morales said.

As of June 15, the Philippines recorded 26,420 cases of COVID-19 with 6,252 recoveries and 1,098 deaths./Stacy Ang



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