Press Release
September 18, 2014

Senate OKs bill granting PhilHealth insurance to all seniors

The Senate on Wednesday has passed on second reading the measure providing mandatory PhilHealth coverage to all senior citizens regardless of their social or economic status.

Senate Bill 712, authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, would automatically enroll all senior citizens of the country in the national health insurance program of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Currently, only indigent senior citizens are entitled to PhilHealth coverage under Republic Act (RA) 7432 as amended by RA 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Recto said the target beneficiaries of the proposed measure are the senior citizens who are neither lifetime members of PhilHealth and dependents nor indigents.

"They're in the grey area of not being too poor to be officially classified indigents but still cannot afford to enroll themselves in PhilHealth. The bill seeks to close this crack where many seniors fall," he said.

Recto said health insurance can never be called universal if it does not cover all seniors.

"Enrolling them must be automatic, not optional. The ideal is that the minute they blow out the candles on their 60th birthday cake to the moment they breathe their last - they should be PhilHealth members," he added.

There are approximately 6.1 million senior citizens -- 60years old and above -- in the country today but only 3.9 million are PhilHealth members as of June 05, 2014.

Recto said PhilHealth needs to cover 2.2 million more senior citizens, which would entail premium payments worth P5.2 billion a year, which could be sourced from the National Health Insurance Fund of PhilHealth.

PhilHealth, as of December 2013, has 31.27 million registered members and 45.63 million dependents totaling to 76.90 million Filipinos provided with Philhealth coverage.

In 2013, PhilHealth reported an income from premium contributions amounting to P62 billion, on top of the subsidy of P12.612 billion it received from the national government.

Correspondingly, for 2013, PhilHealth paid P55.559 billion in benefits payment.

The third reading approval of the measure is widely expected anytime soon or before Congress takes a break starting next week.

Recto thanked Sen. TG Guingona, Senate health committee chair, for shepherding the bill from public hearings to the plenary for debate.

"Sen. Pia Cayetano also put in a wide range of valuable inputs and amendments which further improved the measure," Recto added.

The senator said "supportive PhilHealth officers" led by its Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Alexander Padilla, were also on hand to answer queries and provide technical assistance.

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