With the rising prices of basic commodities, many Filipinos working with a tight budget would often postpone seeking medical consultation even in the event of their bodies signaling that there is something wrong with their physical health.
Hence, what could have been an easier-to-teat illness progresses to a more advanced stage, requiring more comprehensive and more costly cure.
With the filing of their separate bills tackling preventive healthcare, Senators Christopher “Bong” Go and Sonny Angara hope to push for free medical check-ups for Filipinos.
Go filed his “Free Annual Medical Check-up Bill” on July 4, which, will mandate the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to implement free annual medical check-ups (screenings, laboratory and diagnostic tests, and consultations) for all Filipinos, by virtue of their membership with PhilHealth as recognized by Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law.
Along with these, PhilHealth shall offer a comprehensive outpatient benefit package and shall identify the needed laboratory and diagnostic tests to be included, should the bill be passed into law.
“Dahil kulang sa pera, maraming mga kababayan natin ang takot magpatingin sa doktor. Imbes na ibayad sa pagpakonsulta, ibili na lang nila ng pagkain,” Go explained.
(Because they lack the money, many of our countrymen are afraid to consult a doctor. Instead of paying for consultation, they would opt to use the money to buy food)
“Kaya ang simpleng high blood pressure, minsan ay lumala pa at nahulog sa cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, at iba pa. Dahil mas seryoso ang sakit, mas magastos,” Go further expressed, emphasizing the importance of medical check-ups in preventing complications through early detection.
(A simple case of high blood pressure sometimes progresses to cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and other more serious diseases, which becomes more expensive.)
Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has also filed other health measures including a Comprehensive Dialysis Benefit Package for all PhilHealth members, compensation and incentives for Barangay Health Workers, and the establishment of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Virology Science Technology Institute of the Philippines.
He is also responsible for the Malasakit Centers, currently with 151 establishments nationwide, which serve as a one-stop-shop for indigents to be assisted by PhilHealth, PCSO, DSWD and DOH with their medical billings.
Meanwhile, Angara re-filed in the 19th Congress Senate Bill (SB) 2297 or An Act Providing for Free Annual Medical Check-up for Filipinos as one of his top priority bills.
“Through this measure, Filipinos – who are automatically members of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) of the PhilHealth by virtue of R.A. No. 11223 – would be able to access free annual medical check-ups which shall include blood sugar and cholesterol tests,” Angara said.
According to the senator, these tests “may be expanded subject to the availability of funds by the State health insurance agency and the current and emerging health needs of Filipinos”.
In line with advocating for better healthcare for his countrymen, it can be noted that Angara co-authored the Universal Health Care Law.