Madz works as a call center agent in a multi-national company in Makati. She delivers her job well, has an impeccable attendance record, and is an effective team player.
Madz is also a Person with Disability (PWD); she lost her ability to walk after being stricken with polio at 3 years old. She grew up maneuvering a wheelchair whenever she needs to go from one room to another. Yet she did not let this disability become a detriment to her dreams of becoming a successful corporate executive like her father. She will stop at nothing to get to her dreams.
Her medical expenses could sometimes cause huge dents in the family’s budget. So even while studying, Madz would take odd jobs at school like helping out in the library or sitting in as an assistant to the Registrar during enrollment season. She would grab any opportunity to earn extra money to help her get through college. She wanted to liberate her parents from her medical expenses as soon as she can. Now that she is employed, she pays for all her medicines and doctor’s appointments out of the money she earns as a call center agent. It helps that some of her medical needs are covered by their company’s HMO and her Philhealth.
While Madz’s salary is well above the minimum wage, her growing medical expenses have started taking its toll on her monthly budget. If only she could get more discounts on her medicine purchases and hospital expenses, she would be able to at least enjoy part of her hard-earned salary. She tried her luck by asking the Philhealth if PWDs like herself are considered automatic members of Philhealth like Senior Citizens.
The answer was “No”. Unlike Seniors who become “lifetime members” upon reaching the age of 60, PWDs still need to make monthly contributions to the Philhealth in order to enjoy the benefits afforded by the agency to Filipinos.
There is Hope.
Lawmakers are seeking to have RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability amended in order to grant mandatory Philhealth coverage to all Persons with Disability. The bill covers the following purposes:
- This bill provides all PWDs with automatic health insurance coverage under the PHIC.
- To support their enrollment to Philhealth, the national government shall pay for their premium payments to be sourced from the sin tax collections in accordance with Republic Act No. 10351 otherwise known as “An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products.”
This move came about after the UN Convention enjoined all member-states to ensure that PWDs enjoy their rights, freedom and dignity. The same body defined PWDs as those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in the society on an equal basis with others.
The bill is yet to be approved; once enacted into law, all PWDs shall be able to enjoy the benefits of Philhealth and be freed from the financial burden of availing the health care services they need. The government shall fund their health insurances out of the sin tax collections in accordance with RA 10351 or the Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products.
Philhealth’s Role in Uplifting the Privileges of PWDs
Meantime that the government is working at improving the health insurances of PWDs, Philhealth continues to look out for opportunities to advance their support in making the lives of Pinoy PWDs more comfortable through specialized health packages.
One such package is the Z-Morph Prosthesis Package worth Php 15,000.00, launched in 2013. This is granted to members or dependents in need of lower limb prosthesis, a device replacing a missing part of a person’s lower extremities. All a member has to do to avail of this benefit is show his Philhealth card; this is initially available in three hospitals in Metro Manila: UE-RMMC, Philippine General Hospital, and Philippine Orthopedic Center.
While the government continues to explore more opportunities to expand the benefit packages for PWDs, affected individuals will have to continue making monthly contributions out of their salaries, or be listed as a beneficiary of a bona fide relative or family who is a Philhealth member, in order to avail of health benefits and privileges from the government.
For more information on the special packages offered by Philhealth to PWDs, visit their website at www.philhealth.gov.ph