LEGAZPI CITY, Feb 25 (PNA) -- The share of local government unit (LGU)-sponsored beneficiaries of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in Albay has sharply increased in 2016, said a Philhealth official in the province.
Darlene L. Nuyles, acting head of the agency’s Local Health Insurance Office (LHIO) in Albay, cited in particular the case of Legazpi City which gave 4,407 impoverished residents in the city’s 70 villages access to the government’s universal health care program.
“There was a ‘boom’ in Legazpi’s sponsorship of beneficiaries during last year’s period,” she said.
According to Daisy Jane Daet, who monitors the records of LHIO-Albay, Legazpi’s beneficiaries accounted for 45 percent of the nearly 10,000 total number of LGU-sponsored beneficiaries in the province’s three cities (Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco) and 15 towns as of November 30, 2016.
She said the total sponsored beneficiaries in the 18 LGUs in Albay reached 9,738 as of that period.
Daet said Tabaco City was second with 1,703 while Daraga town was third with 1,544 who were PhilHealth access card holders.
Nuyles said the increased membership to the national health insurance program in various communities due to LGU sponsorship augurs well for Philhealth, which has turned 22 years old this month of February, that is also celebrated as National Health Insurance month.
PhilHealth was first created in 1995 through Republic Act 7875 and amended by the National Health Insurance Act of 2013 to provide health insurance coverage and ensure affordable, acceptable, available and accessible health care services for all citizens of the country.
The law allows LHIOs to enter into contracts with any accredited government or private sector health provider organization to provide a minimum package of personal health services.
Any employed or self-employed Filipino enjoys Philhealth benefits upon payment of P200 a month or P2,400 a year to LHIOs throughout the country.
Nuyles cited that Legazpi City has adopted a “sharing scheme” with its 70 barangays to ensure payment of the P2,400 annual premium of the villagers qualified for sponsorship.
“This means that Legazpi City pays 50 percent or Php1,200 of the premium while the remaining Php 1,200 is split between the barangay which provides the Php600 while the beneficiary contributes Php600 (or P50 per month),” she said.
Nuyles explained that the non-LGU component of the Philhealth sponsorship program is through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which assures health care services for the poor population through its National Household Targeting System or NHTS program and 4Ps or “Programang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino” program.
She said the other non-LGU component of the PhilHealth sponsorship program are “hospital sponsored” in the those so-called “point of care” or POC facilities, which are actually the three provincial district hospitals in Albay run by the Department of Health in Bicol.
These three are the Josefina Belmonte Duran Memorial District Hospital in Ligao City, Ziga Memorial District Hospital in Tabaco City and the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital in Legazpi City.
LHIO-Albay records showed a total of 5,351 beneficiaries were able to avail of PhilHealth services through the three POCs in the province.
Nuyles said over the years the Albay provincial government has been helping ensure the enrolment of more impoverished members of the community in the province through hospital sponsorship in these POCs.
“Beneficiaries sponsored through these POCs come and go to these hospitals to avail of PhilHealth benefits,” she said.
She added that LHI0-Albay records showed that as of Nov. 30, 2016, Philhealth’s sponsored program, both LGU and non-LGU sponsored, had a total of 240,446 beneficiaries in the province.
Albay has a population of 1.3 million as of August 2015, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority in Bicol (PNA) RMA/GINA V. RODRIGUEZ/CBD/SSC