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Recto: Use PhilHealth Funds to Enhance Healthcare System

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MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — With retained earnings amounting to some P110 billion, Senator Ralph G. Recto bared on Wednesday that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) can single-handedly revitalize a public healthcare system ailing from a deficiency in financial resources.
Recto: Use PhilHealth Funds to Enhance Healthcare System

Manila Bulletin
October 6, 2010, 8:15pm


MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — With retained earnings amounting to some P110 billion, Senator Ralph G. Recto bared on Wednesday that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) can single-handedly revitalize a public healthcare system ailing from a deficiency in financial resources.

"PhilHealth's accumulated reserved fund is more than thrice the proposed budgetary allocation of the Department of Health for next year, which is about P32.6 billion," Recto said during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance on the budget of the health department.

"If we are to put these funds to better use, then we should focus on using these resources to complement the DoH's efforts to enhance the delivery of healthcare services to the people."

PhilHealth President Rey Aquino told the committee that as of June 20, 2010, the government corporation has a total of P115 billion worth of assets, with liabilities amounting to P6.172 billion.

The senator said that easily, PhilHealth's accumulated income can be used to wipe out the country's healthcare infrastructure deficit.

According to DoH Sec. Enrique Ona, the financial requirement for the upgrade of public health facilities nationwide stands at P19 billion, but only about P7 billion is proposed in its expenditure program next year.

"Imagine how many hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations can be upgraded and improved if Philhealth chooses to redirect these funds to augment the DOH's budgetary allocation for its facilities enhancement program?" Recto said.

He also added that these funds can even be utilized to accelerate the country's compliance to some of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations.

"And with a retained income of P110 billion, it is well within PhiliHealth's prerogative to increase its members' benefits through the further reduction of out-of-pocket expenses related to health-care, which in some instances reach 90-percent of the total costs," Recto said.

He explained that even with PhilHealth coverage, members or beneficiaries still cough up cash from their own pockets to pay for extra hospital expenses, which should have been already part of the health insurance.

The senator explained that since these funds are not pension funds like those of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), then there is no defensible reason for PhilHealth to hold on to these earnings.

"I can think of a lot of ways in which we can use these funds to improve our healthcare system. The DoH and PhilHealth should discuss how to use these monies," Recto said.

As of June 2010, PhilHealth has a total of 21.65 million registered members, the bulk of which comes from the private sector (7.41 million).