President Rodrigo Duterte in February enacted the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, promising easier and equal access to health care services for all Filipinos.
Under the law, everyone will be enrolled to the National Health Security Program, which replaces the National Health Insurance Program or Philhealth. The healthcare coverage includes free diagnostic services, consultation fees and medical tests.
“Ang Universal Health Care Act ay naglalayon na protektahan ang bawat Pilipino laban sa mga problema tuwing sila ay nagakakasakit tulad ng access sa doctor, hospital, at health facility at pagkakatoon ng pera tuwing magkakasakit,” Mar Wynn Bello, director of the Health department’s Health Promotion and Communication Service, told CNN Philippines’ MedTalk.
[Translation: The Universal Health Care Act aims to protect every Filipino from any problem every time they get sick, such as lack of access to doctors, hospitals and health facilities.]
Bello said the UHC law will allow everyone to seek medical services without worrying about lack of money.
“Hindi sila nagpapatingin sa doktor agad agad kapag may nararamdaman kasi takot silang gumastos. Ito na ang isa sa problema na ia-adress ng Universal Health care law. ‘Wag ka matakot na pumunta sa doktor o pumunta sa hospital kapag ikaw ay may sakit kasi sigurado mapo-protektahan ka o may magbabayad sa inyong pagkakasakit,” he added.
[Translation: Many Filipinos refuse to consult doctors because they don’t want to spend money. This is one of the problems that the Universal Health Care law will address. Filipinos should no longer be afraid to consult doctors or go to hospitals because their expenses will be covered.]
Contributors – or income earners – will have to pay for their premiums while the government will shoulder the contributions of non-contributors.
“May pera ang gobyerno na pondohan ito galing sa taxes din ng mamamayang Pilipno, galing sa ating lahat ang pinanggagalingan ng pondong ito,” Bello said.
[Translation: The government has the money to fund this coming from taxes of every Filipino. The fund is from all of us.]
Aside from healthcare coverage, Bello said the law will improve Filipinos’ health literacy.
“Sa pagkakaroon natin ng Universal Health Care law, kaakibat nito ang pagbibigay ng edukasyon sa mga tao upang ma-improve ang kanilang health literacy para hindi na sila magkaroon ng agam agam tungkol sa pagpapagamot at maling kaalaman tungkol sa kanilang kalusugan,” he said.
[Translation: The Universal Health Care law comes with education for people to improve their health literacy, so they won’t have hesitation in seeking medical help.]
It will also address the lack of proper medical facilities around the country.
“Ang mga tao kulang sa access sa serbisyong pangmedikal. Usually malayo sa health facility at walang doktor, nurses o midwife na available doon. Kahit ang gusto magpadoktor o magpagamot wala namang health facility kaya sa pagkakaroon natin ng Universal Health Care law matutugunan natin ito dahil kailangan ma-improve natin ang access sa facility,” Bello said.
[Translation: People lack access to medical services. They are usually far from health facilities and there are no doctors, nurses, or midwife available. With the Universal Health care law we will be able to address this because we have to improve our access to facilities.]