Duterte wants RT-PCR test, isolation in PhilHealth insurance coverage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2021   •   250

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for COVID-19 patients.

To ease patients’ financial burden, the President asked PhilHealth to include COVID-19 testing, isolation, and hospitalization services into the agency’s health insurance coverage.

“Nagbigay ng direktiba ang ating presidente sa Philippine Health Insurance Corp. na kasama sa health insurance coverage ang RT-PCR test, isolation sa accredited community isolation units at hospitalization para sa mild at critical cases ng COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace spokesman said under the country’s testing protocol, RT-PCR tests will be subsidized by the government through PhilHealth for medical and economic frontliners, and those with high exposure to COVID-19 as well as those with symptoms.

“At most, ang babayaran ninyo po ay P300. So, ang bayad po diyan ay Philhealth kaya nga po bilyon-bilyong, ang single largest expenditure ng Philhealth. Hindi naman po tama na sabihin natin na hindi tayo nakakapagbigay ng libreng testing sa ating mga kababayan,” Roque said.

“Wala pong dahilan para hindi Philhealth ang magbayad ng inyong PCR test kung qualified ka makakuha ng PCR test,” he added.

Roque also stressed that PhilHealth should cover patients staying in temporary tents in hospitals and consider them as cases of in-patient care. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Indemnification package for severe COVID-19 side effects to be released this month — PhilHealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), on Friday, announced that the indemnification package for individuals who will experience adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccination will be released soon.

During the Laging Handa briefing, PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Shirley Domingo said the indemnification package may be released within this month after the PhilHealth Board approved its guidelines.

She, however, said that the funding requirement for this package is still being finalized.

“Iyong inaayos lang po natin ay iyong funding po nito. Kasi under the law, we are supposed to be provided with 500 million pesos, iyong trust specifically for this purpose,” she said.

Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 provided P500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.

The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 26, states that the benefits package will cover individuals who experienced serious adverse events following immunization that required hospitalization, and in case of permanent disability or death.

“Ito po iyong kung naturukan sila, na-vaccinate sila for COVID at nagkaroon sila ng serious adverse event ‘no, ibig sabihin may matinding side effect, serious adverse events, or kung ma-hospitalize sila or huwag naman sana pero kung may nabawian ng buhay dahil diyan, lahat po ito ay pasok doon sa benefit na iyon,” Domingo said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since the government rolled out its mass immunization in March.

Of this figure, a total of 1,744,649 people have already received their allocated first dose, while 320,586 have been given their second dose.

PH eyes COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers on 7th or 8th day

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to require incoming travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within seven or eight days after their arrival in the country.

In an online briefing on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they will recommend this policy based on evidence that showed that the viral load is still high on the seventh or eighth day.

“Ipinakita ito nina Dr. Edsel (Salvaña) at iba pang technical advisory group members, based on evidence that on the 7th and the 8th day, nandoon yung pinakamataas na porsiyento that a person who might have the disease might turn positive,” Vergeire said.

Under current guidelines, inbound passengers are subjected to COVID-19 testing on the fifth or sixth day of their quarantine unless they manifest symptoms at an earlier point.

Vergeire said the recommendation aims to accurately identify and isolate all travelers infected with the disease, and break the chain of transmission.

“Although hindi natin dini-discount yung fact na maaaring meron na on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth pero pinakamataas po because the viral load is high is on the 7th and 8th day,” she said.

“And for us to be able to have accurate test results at ma-isolate natin agad ang may sakit ay ito po ang inirerekomenda natin ngayon,” she added.

Vergeire said the proposal has yet to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The Philippine government has imposed a ban on travelers from India, including Filipinos, until May 14 to prevent the entry of a coronavirus variant believed to be contributing to the surge in COVID-19 infections in India.

PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method now applies to all COVID-19 high, critical risk areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has approved the application of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) debit-credit payment method (DCPM) in areas with high-risk and critical COVID-19 situation nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, April 22.

Roque said the move was made as high-risk and critical risk areas will also be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, human health resource deployment, and other relevant COVID-19 response measures, as applicable.

Prior to the IATF’s order, PhilHealth, under its Circular 2021-0004, provides for the use of payment method to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to healthcare facilities during the State of Public Health Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhilHealth initially applied DCPM only to areas identified by the IATF, particularly in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Roque said the IATF likewise directed the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group Treat, through the One COVID Referral System, to utilize the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health.

“These projections shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates,” he said.

“The NTF shall also review and implement the recommended Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat- Reintegrate strategies to reduce the health utilization rates and augment the needs of human resources for health,” he added.

Roque said that the task group will also identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure to contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds become functional with adequate human resources for health and equipment.

The Palace official earlier said that the government is eyeing to add 200 more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

“The NTF shall further engage the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The said materials shall be cascaded to the barangay, purok, sitio, and zone levels through the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the regional counterparts of the NTF for immediate and intensified implementation through barangay empowerment, he added.

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