Out of pocket
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Philippine Statistics Authority recently released data indicating Filipino senior citizens are forced to dip into their own savings to shoulder rising health care costs that come with age highlights the gross insufficiency of public health resources that are already under intense scrutiny amid the coronavirus pandemic and allegations of massive corruption.
According to the data, health spending for the elderly population was found to have reached P171.5 billion. Of that amount, 59 percent or P101.2 billion were paid out of their pockets or by family members. Private health institutions like health maintenance organizations made up 12.5 percent of that amount. The government shouldered a measly 19 percent through the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. while other government programs chipped in 9.5 percent.
The report reinforces figures from early this year which showed that, overall, Filipinos, regardless of age, are spending more and more out of their own earnings to remain healthy, a phenomenon unique in Southeast Asia where governments go beyond lip service and slogans by truly investing on healthcare to secure their populations.
Filipinos have long tolerated and accepted the fact that their government and PhilHealth shoulder a minimal part of the load when it comes to their health and medical expenses because we always assumed our contributions and the funds weren’t enough. With PhilHealth now embroiled in a massive corruption scandal, it turns out funds are simply being diverted to other pockets while Filipinos make do with spending a bigger percentage out of their own pockets for much needed healthcare.
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has intensified stench of corruption and its impact on the country’s public health system yet until now, no heads have rolled. One would start thinking that corruption is being tolerated by the people who have been given stewardship of this country and its resources.
When is this country going to have a public health care system that benefits the general public instead of select individuals?*