Of taxes and needs: How much can P203-B cover in the health sector?

Oscar Magpusao and Yev Monarquia, ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group

Posted at Apr 05 2022 04:18 PM

https://sa.kapamilya.com/absnews/abscbnnews/media/2022/news/04/05/20150309-public-health-jc-2.jpg
Patients use crutches at the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon city. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Marcos family has yet to pay the estate tax of P23 billion according to a 1997 ruling of the Supreme Court. This amount has since ballooned to P203 billion, because of penalties and interest.

Amid persisting disinformation about how the Marcoses are not compelled to pay as heirs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue recently said it was "collecting and demanded payment from the Marcos Estate Administrators."

The unpaid estate tax can shoulder the costs of the health sector with regards to funding programs or purchasing expensive medical equipment, pay for the hospitalization and treatment fees of Filipinos for diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis, cancer, HIV, etc.

Here's a detailed look: 

Universal Healthcare (UHC) 

Filipino nurse Marciana Erispe tends to a mother inside the maternity ward of the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, September 18, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters
Filipino nurse Marciana Erispe tends to a mother inside the maternity ward of the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, September 18, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

According to DOF estimates in 2019, the initial funding required is P257 billion, with an annual increase of P11 billion to P12 billion, or a five-year total budget of P1.44 trillion by 2024. 1 The budget will be sourced from the sin tax hike. 

The average annual cost of UHC’s implementation over the 5-year period is thus P288 billion per year.

For the UHC, P203 billion is enough to cover 70% of the UHC’s budget for one year.

Funding the pandemic

For COVID-19, according to a study titled “Hospitalization Expenditure of COVID-19 patients at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) with PhilHealth Coverage,” the average hospital expenses of a COVID-19 patient confined at the UP-PGH, with PhilHealth coverage, based on the study's sample of 691 patients, was around P231,300. 

For COVID-19 patients, P203 billion is enough to cover the hospitalization costs of about 877,600 COVID-19 patients with PhilHealth coverage at the UP-PGH.

Tuberculosis costs 

According to House of Representatives Committee on Health Chair Dr. Angelina Tan, “drug- susceptible TB (DSTB) or the type of TB that can be treated by first line drugs, treatment for an adult may cost P2,300 for six months. For the more potent type called drug resistant TB (DRTB), treatment cost ranges between P35,000 to P600,000, depending on the treatment regimen.”

Alberto Aquino receives his Tuberculosis medicines at the Batasan Hills Health Center in Quezon City on September 28, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Alberto Aquino receives his Tuberculosis medicines at the Batasan Hills Health Center in Quezon City on September 28, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

For Tuberculosis patients, P203 billion is enough to cover the treatment of 88.26 million adults with drug-susceptible TB (DSTB) or the treatment of between 338,000 to 5.80 million adults with drug resistant TB (DRTB) depending on the treatment regimen.

Trying to cure cancer 

Based on the medical costs of a Filipino mother with ovarian cancer for six years from 2010 to 2016, her family spent P100,000 per cycle of chemotherapy every three weeks; P20,000 pesos for oral medications per month; and more or less P100,000 pesos for a series of diagnostic tests to monitor the progress of her medications. 

For cancer patients, P203 billion is enough to cover 2.03 million chemotherapy sessions; 10.15 million oral medications for cancer treatment; and more or less the series of diagnostic tests to monitor the progress of cancer medications of 2.03 million cancer patients.

HIV Treatment

According to Sam Hytham, a person living with HIV, it costs him about “P20,000 to P25,000 at least twice a year” for laboratory exams in order to find out if his body was reacting well to his antiretroviral treatment. 

For HIV patients, P203 billion is enough to cover the cost of between 8.12 million to 10.15 million laboratory PLHIV tests.

Quality medical equipment

According to the medical equipment supplier Block Imaging, the price of a mid-end quality CT Scanner machine ranges from USD120,000-USD160,000 or roughly P6.2 million to P8.29 million per unit.

A mid-end quality MRI Scanner machine will cost anywhere from USD325,000-USD500,000 or roughly P16.8 million to P25.9 million. 

A mid-end quality General X-Ray room will cost anywhere from USD50,000 - USD75,000, or roughly P2.6 million to P3.9 million per unit. 

According to a report by Fior Markets, an ICU Bed will cost anywhere from USD25,000 to USD30,000 or roughly P1.29 million to P1.55 million per unit. 

For hospitals, P203 billion is enough to:

  • Fund the purchase of 24,500-32,700 CT Scanner Machines.
  • Fund the purchase of 7,800-12,000 MRI Scanner Machines.
  • Fund the installation of 52,000-78,000 General X-Ray rooms.
  • Fund the purchase of 131,000 to 157,000 ICU beds.
Watch more on iWantTFC