New Law Claims Everybody Deserves Healthcare—Everybody!

YES! We’re all for laws that care.
PHOTO: iStock/Nattakorn Maneerat

It has always been a sticky sitch: being eligible for and having access to good, dependable healthcare. You’d think that’s pretty basic, right? Unfortunately, because of the prohibitive expenses of quality healthcare, access is a long-standing issue everywhere. And, the Philippines isn’t alone in that matter. Even first-world countries face a similar predicament and are scrambling to find ways to make sure its citizens are cared for and healthy.

Therefore, this development last February 20 is a huge step in the right direction. The Universal Healthcare Act was finally signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. The Universal Healthcare Law states that all Filipnos—whether employed or not, whether part of the PhilHealth system or not—are covered by the national insurance program, by virtue of being Filipino. This guarantees equal access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health services. That’s quite a mouthful, we know. But bottom line is this: It is now your right (FYI: It has always been) within the law to be eligible for and to have access to services that will promote your health and support your life. 

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The law also expands PhilHealth coverage (a.k.a. that government-mandated health insurance usually listed in your pay slip—check it out) to include free medical check-ups, laboratory tests, and some diagnostic services. So, you won’t have to shell out extra to have those done. You deserve it; you’re Filipino after all!

So, where will the government get all the money to cover these costs? In reality, the government isn’t short of sources. The budget for this increase in health services will be pooled from the sin tax collections (the tax collected from vices, like cigarettes and alcohol), charity fund from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office or PCSO (earnings from Lotto operations), income from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or PAGCOR (funds that come in from casinos), as well as premium contribution of members (from you!), yearly budgets set by the Department of Health or DOH, and government subsidies allotted to run the PhilHealth program. All in all, the budget that’ll go into implementing these new measures is a whopping P257 billion pesos. For a growing population of over 106 million of us Filipinos, that’s a good enough start.

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So, our government does have the resources to care for us after all. And, the Universal Health Care Act being signed into law allows us to hold our government accountable for its commitment to our health and well-being. After all, we do pay taxes (our pay slips are proof!), contribute monthly to PhilHealth (again, do yourself a favor and study your salary), and access to healthcare is, after all, a right. 

As with anything in a goverment set-up with a huge law-making body (congress + senate!), we’ve got many amazing pending bills and approved laws.  But, the true challenge lies in implementation. This’ll take time, but it’s also long overdue. So, we’ve got our eye on you, government. We’re literally putting our health on the line here. 

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