Back in 2018, the first Malasakit Center was launched by the government in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City. By early 2019, there are about 18 Malasakit Centers all over the country mostly situated in public tertiary care hospitals, similar to VSMMC.
What is a Malasakit Center? It is a one-stop shop, a small booth in a public hospital that houses desk representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Department of Health (DoH). These agencies have agreed to have their respective representatives present in the Center so that people are able to transact without having to leave the hospital.
In the not so distant past, it was common for a patient’s relative to travel to various government offices to avail of financial assistance for their medical bills, especially those from indigent families. While there were funds and assistance available, there was also a ton of paperwork to accomplish before the financial assistance was given. Those who availed were also required to show a certificate of indigency which proved that they are indeed as poor as they claim to be. This meant they had to go to their barangay council to request this document, which may not be given as soon as the applicant might expect as there might be the need to do a home visit. For a person who needs money for medical care, time is of the essence.
And thus the Malasakit Center was born. This Center was not an original idea of the current administration, but it was in the time of President Duterte that this idea was welcomed and set in motion. Now, indigent Filipinos in need of financial assistance for their medical bills can easily reach this assistance through the Malasakit Centers.
In all Malasakit Centers, persons with disabilities and senior citizens are given priority. PWDs and seniors who are confined in the hospital may delegate their representative to transact on their behalf as long as:
- The PWD or senior citizen patient is within the premises of the hospital or vicinity of the Malasakit Center for easy confirmation.
- Whoever is going to transact for the PWD or senior citizen must have a valid ID and a signed authorization letter delegating him/her as the representative of the patient. This letter must be accompanied by the patient’s UNEXPIRED PWD or senior citizen ID.
- Those who are representing a PWD or senior citizen can use the special express lanes.
Because many of the PWDs benefits include automatic PhilHealth coverage, it is easier to process benefits and claims for the PWDs. The Malasakit Center is a revolutionary way of doing away with red tape and ensuring that people taxes are put to very good use.
The first Malasakit Center was opened in Cebu at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. Senatoriable Bong Go graced the opening and has been present in most of the launches of the other Malasakit Centers nationwide.