High-Level Policy Forum on Provider Payment Reform in the Philippines Towards Universal Health Coverage
Part 1: Learning from International Experience
7 March 2018
Opening Remarks by
Mara K. Warwick
Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand
Honorable Health Secretary Francisco Duque III,
Board members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation,
Senior officials of the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like congratulate PhilHealth on its 23rd anniversary. This date is a very important milestone in the country’s efforts to promote affordable health care for all Filipinos.
Twenty-three years ago, the Philippines embarked on a program to achieve universal health insurance to ensure that all Filipinos obtain quality health care without facing financial difficulties.
Today, a significant population has been enrolled under PhilHealth. Many of the poor are enrolled for free or have subsidized coverage. To achieve this, DOH has been instrumental in advocating for additional public financing for health, including through revenue generated by the sin tax law.
Moreover, the health care package financed under the PhilHealth has been expanded to include primary health care in addition to hospital care, covering the needs of the poor and the underserved.
All these milestones were achieved together with continuing improvements in social protection. Nevertheless, some challenges remain. For instance, at least half of health care expenses are covered by Filipinos through out-of-pocket spending. PhilHealth’s systems may also need upgrading to keep up with rising service demands.
The Department of Health prepared programs to address many of these critical challenges.
Recently, the House of Representatives has passed on third reading the Universal Health Coverage bill seeking to give all Filipino citizens health care and insurance. The proposed legislation is envisioned to give Filipinos access to a full range of services they need – from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
And today, all of us here in the room, have the distinct honour to contribute to the discussions on how the country can achieve universal health care. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and learn the best practices in other countries.
Investing in health and human capital in general is important for socio-economic development. A recent study by the World Bank concluded that better outcomes in health and education translates directly to faster economic growth. Making progress towards Universal Health coverage is an important part of this investment.
The World Bank has been supporting the country’s health reform agenda for many years. Most recently, we have been working with the Department of Health and Philhealth on three critical areas: health financing; people-centered health service delivery; and health financing systems assessment. The World Bank is also preparing a multi-sector study on nutrition, in consultation with the National Nutrition Council.
We remain committed to supporting the country’s efforts to make quality health services accessible to all, especially the poor and the marginalized.
Thank you very much.