PhilHealth denies P2M debts to private hospitals

THE Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) said Thursday it has no overdue payments to more than 900 private hospitals.
“It is incorrect to say that we have P2-billion debt. We have been asking for details of that — those details have not been provided,” PhilHealth president and chief executive Eduardo Banzon said.
He said PhilHealth has more than P100 billion in reserves.
Rustico Jimenez, Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines president, alleged that PhilHealth’s debts accumulated over the years could be even higher than the estimated P2 billion. He said PhilHealth has been ignoring their pleas to settle their obligations.
“We have improved clinch processing. We have reduced the processing of clinch from more than 60, 70 days to about 48. We are almost updated, so it’s incorrect for them to say that we have unpaid clinch of two billion,” he added.
He said PhilHealth has been constantly communicating with huge private hospitals in Manila and in the provinces and all have committed to continue accepting PhilHealth cards.
Some of these hospitals include Medical City, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Cebu Doctors Hospital, Riverside Medical Center in Bacolod City, among others.
“Sometimes statements like that (debt) should be looked into. You know, the hospitals in the Philippines, the private hospitals have been partners of PhilHealth for a long time and will continue to be partners and will continue to accept PhilHealth members,” said Banzon.
He assured the public that private hospitals that are accredited with PhilHealth will accept its members. “If there’s any hospital that won’t you just tell us,” he said.
“They (private hospitals) have signed up with us either warranties of accreditation of performance commitment contract. They are legally obliged to accept our members, I will take the necessary actions,” he added.
To resolve issues on payments, Banzon said starting September 1, PhilHealth will pay hospitals directly and will remove the practice of paying through voucher and check.
“As long as you have a Landbank account, we pay it to hospitals directly. And hopefully that will further improve our processing time,” he said.
Banzon likewise said PhilHealth is willing to sit down with Jimenez and clarify issues regarding its obligations.
“PhilHealth right now is very easy to talk to. We’re very open. We’ll listen to criticisms; we’ll listen to inputs because we acknowledge that the task of the universal healthcare needs inputs from everybody,” he said.
Charity wards
Meantime, the Department of Health (DOH) clarified reports of closing down charity wards in government hospitals, after receiving flaks from the public.
Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said charity wards will not be dissolved but will only be converted into PhilHealth wards.
“The charity wards will continue. The charity patients will continue because there are still patients out there who may be in and out of the insurance system. So charity wards will not be dissolved. There’s no policy or paper that dissolves the charity wards,” Herbosa said.
He said the government would want charity ward or the dole out concept to eventually be dissolved giving way to universal healthcare where every Filipino is enrolled to PhilHealth.
At present, Herbosa said 80 percent of the population is currently enrolled to PhilHealth.
He said around 5.2 million households or 20 million poorest of the poor people earlier identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction were automatically registered in the PhilHealth program where they can avail free treatment and hospitalization in government-run hospitals.
“All government hospitals are supposed to accept those enrolled in the sponsored program on a ‘no balance billing.’ That means, no additional payment so all they come is with their PhilHealth membership,” he said.
The DOH is looking into the possibility of convincing private hospitals to offer the same no billing policy to PhilHealth beneficiaries.
Herbosa said the government allotted P12 billion for the PhilHealth program.

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