10M more PhilHealth members from P60B sin tax bill

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2012 03:48 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2012 04:12 AM

MANILA - If the executive's version of getting P60 billion from the sin tax bill is passed, there will be an additional 10 to 15 million PhilHealth members, which will be sponsored by the government.

PhilHealth currently has 25 million members, 5 million of whom come from the informal sector which is sponsored by the government.

PhilHealth has a grand total of 85 million members, including dependents.

But PhilHealth President Eduardo Banzon stressed that aside from just looking at the "numbers," there will also be more benefits for current members if the bill is passed. "Hindi usapang membership lang, gumaganda ang benefits," he said.

Banzon said PhilHealth stands to get about P10 billion from the P60 billion sin tax bill, so "we will be expanding the number of poor families who will become members, improve the benefits, in-patient benefit, expanded farmer care benefit."

It will also greatly reduce out-of-pocket spending of members. "Bulk of it [out-of-pocket spending] is [for] medicine, two-thirds; 20 percent is always out-of-pocket."

Banzon said if they have the money, PhilHealth will use its market power to make "PhilHealth packages" that will shoulder all expenses for in-patient services not just for catastrophic diseases.

Budget Secretary Butch Abad said they are confident that the sin tax bill will be passed by the Congress, but "the issue is the quality [of the bill]."

If the P60 billion sin tax bill is passed and PhilHealth gets P10 billion, people like pedicab driver Alberto Peralta and his family will have a chance to become PhilHealth members.

Peralta said even if they get free treatment in the hospital as indigents, they still pay for other things like medicine.

"Katulad nitong anak ko, sinipon at nilagnat, tatlong gamot ang pinapabili pero isa lang ang nabili kong gamot, di kaya eh...kapit sa patalim," he said.