Proposed P101.51-B budget for health insurance, higher by P1.28B to cover more beneficiaries

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman has announced the proposed P101.51 billion budget for the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth) next year, a substantial increase of P1.28 billion from the previous budget to accommodate an expanded pool of beneficiaries and to double the annual premium rate for Persons-with-Disability (PWDs) from P2,400 to P5,000.

Under the mandate of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law or R.A. 11223, PhilHealth is tasked to provide health insurance coverage and ensure affordable, acceptable, available, and accessible health care services for all Filipinos.

The proposed 2024 budget reflects the government’s commitment to fortifying health care for marginalized and disadvantaged communities, leveraging insights from the pandemic to bolster primary care units across the country.

“Given the lessons from the pandemic, the FY 2024 proposed budget will continue to strengthen primary healthcare facilities in the country, including medical assistance amounting to P22.26 billion to 1.31 million indigent and financially incapacitated patients who are unable to afford nor access quality healthcare services,” said Pangandaman.

The proposed PhilHealth program benefits are slated to reach approximately 12.75 million indigent members as identified by the National Household Targeting System under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); 8.26 million senior citizens (as per RA 10645); over 15,000 financially handicapped point-of-service patients; 136,000 unemployed persons with disabilities, and 25,512 individuals as identified in the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Peace and Development Program.

Earlier, Pangandaman confirmed an allocation of P22.98 billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health (DOH), with an aim to enhance nationwide healthcare standards.

“The proposed budget for FY 2024 reflects our commitment to strengthening the fundamental pillars of our healthcare system,” Secretary Pangandaman highlighted.

“With an allocated P22.98 billion, DOH’s HFEP will continue to lead the way in scaling up the nation’s healthcare facilities, a crucial aspect underpinning the realization of the Philippine Health Agenda (PHA),”she added.

In the FY 2024 Budget Message, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. underscored the importance of fortifying the nation’s health infrastructure, saying, “We will sustain our efforts in strengthening government healthcare services to safeguard the population from future health crises. By investing in state-of-the-art medical facilities, expanding healthcare access, and deploying healthcare professionals, we can provide high-quality care and respond effectively to any future health emergencies.”

The HFEP’s total allocation — P22,983,872,000 in all — will be specifically directed towards building, upgrading, and expanding government-run health care facilities all across the country. The allocation will also allow for the purchase of hospital equipment and medical transport vehicles.

The program will give priority to Universal Health Care (UHC) sites and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS), along with upgrading essential facilities for robust COVID-19 response measures and facilitating ongoing project construction and equipage.