The Universal Health Care (UHC) Act is now law and has been made a priority bill by both Congress and the Senate. This law has been lauded by so many organizations and institutions including the World Health Organization as a landmark piece of legislation, and true enough, this law makes us Filipino citizens automatically covered by PhilHealth. This administration should pat itself on the back for implementing a law that many administrations in the past had tried to agree on.
This law has yet to have its implementing rules and regulations to be released and we are all eagerly waiting for this law to be fully implemented. The UHC was signed into law by President Duterte last February 21, 2019. However, politics aside, this law came from the efforts of the Aquino Health Agenda which began in 2010. This writer believes that credit should be given where it is due. In the same breath that credit also goes to the Duterte administration for railroading this law into passage.
The UHC or the Kalusugang Pangkalahatan (KP) as they call it in Filipino, was initially meant to help those in the GIDA or the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas were among the primary driving reasons for framing this law. The poor, living in the darkest and most remote corners of the archipelago, often leave medical care to chance, good luck charms, crossed fingers and prayer-overs. Doctors are only found near the capital and almost always in ridiculous scarcity. Plus the cost of buying medicines make patients skip their daily dose and instead hope that after taking one pill they will not need another. We know this will not work and thus the poor elect to leave it all to God than to medicines.
Families who have lost loved ones due to cancer or any lingering, chronic and terminal illness have felt more than their share of misfortune. Terminal illnesses take its toll on the psyche and the morale of any family. Despite all the bullshit people say about adversity bringing us all together, anything that causes the slow and painful death of a loved one brings about all kinds of psychological and emotional garbage, extra weight you can live without. On top of this, the bills begin to pile up to the point that food, water, rent and transportation money are diverted into the medicines of the ill loved one. So the poor just wait for their death in agonizing pain while those who could afford to buy medicines are driven to poverty after some time.
The UHC is designed to help prevent you from turning your pockets inside out. With the UHC, all Filipinos will have better medical services, cheaper laboratory services and doctor’s fees. With the new law, some procedures will be free of charge along with medical assistance for fees and consumables.
The new law will also lead to the creation of the National Health Insurance Program where all citizens will be eligible to join and categorized into to two groups: contributory and non-contributory. Under the contributory group will be the employees and the self-employed, those who can regularly pay contributions. Then there are those who non-contributory or those who are unable to pay regular contributions. This category includes the indigent, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Coverage for them will continue to be free as it will be the government who will pay for their contributions.
With the initial year of implementation, many sources in the government say that P257 Billion has been earmarked for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act to ensure that all citizens can get good health care never before provided by the previous law/s.
As it with all other laws, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the UHC is expected to come out in a year. However, the Department of Health promised they would do their best to come up with a finished and polished IRR in less than 60 days.