Press Releases

The problem of access to Senior Citizen healthcare is structural, but it should be addressed alongside other issues with Senior Citizen welfare.

April 3rd, 2024

The core of the SC welfare issue is how to address (1) increasing needs for specialized services with (2) reduced personal incomes due to retirement. That naturally produces a gap in personal capacity to finance not just healthcare, but even basic necessities and the little pleasures that come with dignified old age.

The average senior makes around ₱3,000 per month, which keeps around 47 percent of them below the poverty line. The welfare gap – or what we need to give all seniors a decent life – is around ₱9.1 trillion.

That is why, together with Chairpersons Ordanes and Bascug, I have been working on issues that concern all aspects of senior citizen needs, not just health.

Around 18 percent of the welfare gap — 1.64 trillion — is the healthcare financing gap. That’s what we need to find ways of addressing.

Within that gap, there are chronic conditions that require primary and supportive healthcare. That is where Philhealth primarily devotes its resources.

The unfilled gap is in acute or catastrophic health care. Without insurance, such medical expenses can be ruinous to ordinary families with senior citizens. The very limited case rates under Philhealth’s existing packages simply won’t do.

I am exploring a separate insurance fund under Philhealth to address this gap. The risk profile is different, so the fund also has to be different.

The fiscal resources for health are not yet exhausted. The absorptive capacity of the DOH to spend it in full typically falls short. There’s usually around ₱40 billion in excess funds that can be used to support a more aggressive seniors health insurance system — apart from the excess reserve funds of Philhealth.

We are on our way there.

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The problem of access to Senior Citizen healthcare is structural, but it should be addressed alongside other issues with Senior Citizen welfare.
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