THOUGH many Filipinos have a high awareness of the services of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), the agency must improve its trust rating, which has eroded over the years — especially amid the pandemic — according to a study.
A study conducted by communications firm EON Group in 2022 showed almost all respondents knew about PhilHealth and have a high regard for its services, with more than 75% saying they believe the agency contributes to public health and welfare.
However, the agency only had a 61% trust rating from respondents, who cited among other reasons that the coverage for coronavirus is insufficient and that the hike in members’ contributions announced in May is not justified.
“The current PhilHealth leadership must justify the continued public trust in the agency,” said Junie S. del Mundo, chief executive officer of the EON Group, in an Aug. 24 forum hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).
“PhilHealth has had a low perception of trust over the years, with Filipinos becoming more critical of recent measures,” Mr. Del Mundo said.
Shirley B. Domingo, PhilHealth vice-president for corporate affairs and official spokesperson, explained that though they were thrust into the limelight during the pandemic for delayed payment of hospital claims, the funds remained intact.
“Maybe there were procedural lapses in providing funds to hospitals, maternity clinics, and dialysis centers, but none of it ever disappeared,” she said.
Meanwhile, the agency is currently working on improving the automation of claims payment, which is where they are widely judged.
Moving forward, the Universal Health Care (UHC) program will require work from both public and private groups — especially in terms of primary care that should focus on preventive rather than curative measures.
“(PhilHealth’s) Konsulta package is really the initial step in UHC. Everyone has to pass through a primary healthcare provider, which is how it is abroad. A general practitioner will then refer you to a specialist if needed,” said Jose Rene De Grano, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines.
The UHC law, he continued, will result in private hospitals being treated as at par with government facilities, even though the current formulation of the law neglects to mention private hospitals as primary centers of care.
Ms. Domingo added that the funding of primary healthcare will be complicated as well, as it will have to involve local government units, the Department of Health, and PhilHealth to get their acts together with minimal resources. — Brontë H. Lacsamana