THE Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), in cooperation with the Department of Health, will hold a nationwide registration for indigents next month.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that qualified registrants are those identified as "true indigents" in the National House Targeting System – Proxy Means Test (NHTS-PMS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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The government estimated that about 4.7 million poor families, enlisted in the NHTS-PMS which, has not yet been released by the DSWD.

"In keeping with P-Noy’s promise to give each and every Filipino access to quality healthcare in three years, your Philhealth will open its doors across the country," Ona noted.

During his State of the Nation Address last month, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III committed to improve Philhealth by primarily identifying the "correct number of Filipinos who sorely need coverage".

Aquino said that while Philhealth claimed that 87 percent of Filipinos are covered, the National Statistics Office says that only 38 percent are covered registered.

Ona noted that the "state-run health insurance program was made a top priority item" in the Aquino administration which is aiming hit "100 percent coverage" for Philhealth.

Under the plan, Philhealth desks will be set up in public schools, municipal halls and all of the 72 hospitals retained by the DOH across the country for the "P-Noy Philhealth Day" on September 18.

Ona added that the NHTS-PMT data base might be posted in the registration booths and barangay halls to enable one to know if he is in the list, therefore, qualified to register.

“We are also tapping other means such as online registration via our website; via texting using their cell phones; in malls and other commercial centers; and through our partners such as local government units, government hospitals and colleges and universities to ensure that they will be able to register with ease and convenience.”

But after registering, applicants do not have to pay the P1,200 annual premium fee for Philhealth membership.

Ona said the government would be shouldering the premium payment or they would look for private sector that could sponsor membership fees.

"I encourage all Filipinos, especially non-members to go out and avail of this opportunity and secure financial protection that they will need in times of emergencies and medical situations in the family," he added. (MSN/Sunnex)