President Duterte only just signed the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill into law last February 20. Now law, the UHC Act simply aims to provide accessible health care to all Filipinos. This is in line with the government’s goal of “protecting and promoting the right to health of every Filipino and instill health consciousness among them.”
What exactly does the UHC law entail? Firstly, it creates the National Health Insurance Program which is an integrated health care plan supposedly covering all essential health needs. All Filipino citizens are eligible for the program, though members can be either direct or indirect. Direct membership requires the payment of health premiums, while indirect membership does not and will be given to senior citizens and indigents.
The benefits the law provides are “immediate access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health services” and a primary health care provider. While the ‘essential health benefit package’ includes (but is not limited to) “primary care; diagnostics and laboratory services; prescription medicines.”
The Department of Health will reportedly require Php 257 billion in its implementation year alone. So how is this being funded? The following funding sources will be used for the program:
- DOH annual budget
- Revenues from sin taxes
- Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation
- Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office
- PhilHealth members’ contributions
- Government subsidies to PhilHealth
Proponents of the bill celebrate the step closer to making quality health care a basic right for all people. However, those who oppose the law criticize the amount of funding needed and the sustainability of the program.
What do you think about this law?