NO less than the President of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) is spearheading the nationwide campaign to continue providing health insurance coverage for less privileged constituents and keeping them economically productive.
Driven by his desire to ensure that everyone in his province is enrolled with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Governor Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. of Oriental Mindoro formally signified his commitment to renew the PhilHealth coverage of almost 80,000 indigent families from the province’s 14 municipalities and one component city.
But the road to this welcome development was not exactly smooth. Earlier this year, Umali and his fellow governors raised various concerns to PhilHealth, particularly on the need for the local government units (LGUs) to fully shoulder the annual premium rates for each family that the LGUs were sponsoring into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). In a forum at the Manila Hotel, the governors were vocal about the effect of paying the full premium rates on the financial capability of their respective provinces, and the eventual impact of increases to this annual premium rate.
Undeterred, however, Umali renewed the coverage of 77,134 families from the municipalities of Baco, Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Gloria, Mansalay, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola, Puerto Galera, Roxas, San Teodoro, Socorro, Victoria and the city of Calapan. He was grateful that about 71,094 poor families in his province as determined by the National Household Targeting System or NHTS were also guaranteed PhilHealth coverage through full national government subsidy. Addressing his constituents, Umali emphasized the importance of welcoming and taking advantage of social protection programs being implemented by the government. “Mahalin natin ang mga programang ganito nang sa ganu’n matiyak nating padagdag pa ng padagdag ang matatanggap nating social services sa ating gobyerno,” he said. In total, nearly 150,000 families had been sponsored by either the national government or the LGUs in Mindoro Oriental.
Like other local chief executives who earlier signed MOAs with PhilHealth, Umali availed of the two-year, lock-in PhilHealth promo wherein enrolees are assured of coverage until December 31, 2013 at a total premium cost for the whole lock-in period of only P1,800.00 per enrolled family.
“Nung una biased ako sa PhilHealth kasi sa tingin ko, maganda yung mga Orange Card (referring to the city-issued health card), pero after moving around, nung naging LPP President ako, nakita ko yung mga may PhilHealth, sila yung nagpapatakbo ng mga best practices sa ospital, kaya magmula noon, ‘captured client’ n’yo na ako,” Umali said.
His desire to achieve universal health insurance coverage in his province which is known for its white sand beaches, very active ports that are vital to its economic progress, and eco-tourism potentials, is evident in his initiative to create a provincial health insurance office with a lean team of ten (10) people to look after the PhilHealth needs of the LGU enrolees. These include encoding requirements for member registration, mapping residents with and without PhilHealth coverage, ensuring that the ID cards reach each enrolled member, maintaining systematic files of Member Data Records (MDRs) and assisting members in having their MDRs amended. “Gusto talaga ni Gov na malaman kung sino pa ang walang PhilHealth coverage kaya sinusuyod namin ang mga bahay-bahay sa bawat barangay,” said Tess Santiago who heads the PHIO.
With efficient and effective management, too, the province has been able to improve on the facilities of its Provincial Hospital at its new location, about 30 minutes away from Calapan City. This and other PhilHealth-accredited health care providers in the province are ready and able to address the health care needs of members, not only from Oriental Mindoro but from the neighboring provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Romblon, as well.
Ever hopeful that his fellow governors will similarly re-enrol those who need to have coverage in their respective bailiwicks, Umali expressed optimism that these LCEs will eventually follow his footsteps. “Palagay ko, lahat naman sila magrerenew....hopefully makasama natin sila,” Umali said.
Indeed, eight years of partnership with PhilHealth has translated into positive results for the health care of Mindorenos. We can expect Bawat Mindoreno Miyembro with the Mindoreno PhilHealth member and his/her dependent provided financial protection and their health care needs secured.(END) (by Maria Sophia B. Varlez; photos by Juanito G. Pineda)