Thousands of Cebu’s poor lost health insurance

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


SOME 37,000 needy residents of Cebu City lost their Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) coverage after the Cebu City Government failed to renew their membership this year.

The City’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) confirmed that the City Government temporarily cut off the benefit after Philhealth doubled its annual membership contributions this year.

The City had set aside P22 million this year for the insurance coverage, but DSWS Chief Ester Concha said the budget was not enough to pay for the membership fees.

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Concha explained that from P1,200, the annual Philhealth premium contribution went up to P2,400.

“Our current budget cannot cover all our indigent beneficiaries, that’s why we are looking for means to deal with this,” Concha told Sun.Star Cebu.

The failure to renew the membership, Concha said, will prevent the indigent beneficiaries from using their Philhealth cards during hospital confinement and consultations.

Concha said that this will affect the beneficiaries only this year, as the City plans to address the problem.

She said that during an initial talk with former councilor Jose Daluz III, one of the options brought up was to lessen the number of beneficiaries to renew the membership this year. Another option discussed was to propose a higher budget for next year.

From 37,000 indigent beneficiaries, the City might reduce it to 10,000, for the current budget to fit. A reassessment will be needed to determine who among the beneficiaries will be prioritized.

“If we take that option, of course we will know who are those in need of help and have no capacity really to pay for a hospital bill,” Concha said.

Champ

However, if the reassessment will show that more than 10,000 indigents do need the benefit, Concha said they will push for a higher budget next year.

In the absence of their Philhealth benefit, DSWS assured the indigents that the City will help them through other health programs like the City Hospitalization and Medicine Program (Champ).

“They can still avail themselves of the Champ; that’s on top of their Philhealth benefit,” Concha said.

Under the City’s hospitalization program, a qualified beneficiary can avail of P5,000 worth of medicines from the City, P5,000 for laboratory fees and a maximum of P25,000 for hospitalization.

The issue seems to be one of budgeting, but not necessarily cash flow. Some City Hall officials were recently made to answer an administrative complaint for grave misconduct and abuse of authority, for granting P20,000 each as calamity assistance to City employees and officials last year. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 07, 2014.

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