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Health care industry in the Philippines - statistics & facts

The healthcare system in the Philippines has evolved in recent years, especially with the introduction of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law in 2019. Before that, Filipino citizens had to cover medical bills out-of-pocket, which was about half of the total healthcare expenditures in the country. Consequently, the health spending of Filipino households had been increasing in recent years, mostly to pay for medicines and other medical goods. Affordable and accessible medical care remains a primary demand among the growing Filipino population.

Healthcare for all

On February 20, 2019, the Universal Health Care Act Republic Act (RA) 11223 was signed into law by the Philippine government, which aims to provide affordable and quality healthcare services to Filipino citizens, along with reducing out-of-pocket expenditures. Through the UHC, all Filipinos would be automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program administered by PhilHealth, which is a government corporation. This would also align the agency’s enrolment process with the proposed National ID system, intensify premium collection, provide comprehensive primary care benefits, and establish healthcare provider networks. To fund this, the government boosted its healthcare expenditure to nearly six percent of its GDP. Additional hospitals are also expected to contribute to the existing healthcare facilities, along with increasing the ratio of medical professionals to the number of the population in a commuty.

Challenges within the Philippine healthcare system

Despite the UHC, concerns on the unequal access to medical care persists, especially in rural areas and among low-income earners. The quality of healthcare in private hospitals, which is usually more expensive, is more consistent. Such hospitals are usually equipped with better facilities compared to public hospitals. Far-flung municipalities also had limited access to health facilities and medical professionals, resulting in low detection of illness and health deterioration as some patients tend to seek alternative cures instead of professional help. Overall, spending on curative care accounted for over half of the current health expenditures, whereas spending on preventive care was just nine percent. In addition, low salaries and insufficient benefits had been fueling an increased desire to work abroad among medical professionals to better provide for their families in the Philippines.

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