House leader eyes full PhilHealth coverage for coronavirus patients

A HOUSE leader asked the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to include treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19) in its full medical coverage.

Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said PhilHealth should shoulder all the medical expenses of  COVID-19 patients.

He said the committee on health approved his motion for full PhilHealth coverage of Covid-19 patients.

Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, chairman of the Committee on Health, supported Defensor’s proposal, saying PhilHealth should adjust its “case rates” in line with President Duterte’s declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a “public health emergency.”

In response, PhilHealth officials said they would recommend to their board of directors the adjustment of treatment cost for Covid-19 patients.

Defensor said the present rates apply only for treating pneumonia and its symptoms, including fever, cough and sore throat, and laboratory tests.

He said since Covid-19 manifestations are like those of pneumonia, PhilHealth coverage should be “open-ended” and adjusted if the ailment deteriorates into coronavirus disease.

“I am particularly concerned about poor patients. If you don’t shoulder the full cost of treatment, they just might die because they cannot afford Covid-19 treatment,” he told health officials.

During the hearing, the solon also proposed increasing the number of testing centers for coronavirus disease and the number of isolation rooms. He said at present, there are only five test centers nationwide – three hospitals in Luzon that are all in Metro Manila, one in Cebu and another in Davao City.