Malacañang on Tuesday said the government would subsidize Covid-19 tests through the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), but only for some Filipinos.
In a media briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said medical and economic frontliners, people exposed to Covid-19 and those showing symptoms were eligible for the grant.
“Huwag po kayong mag-atubili, at most ang babayaran ninyo po ay P300,” Roque said.
“Ang [magbabayad] po diyan ay PhilHealth, kaya nga po bilyun-bilyon, iyan na po ang single largest expenditure ng Philhealth. So hindi naman po tama na sabihin natin na hindi tayo nakapagbibigay ng libreng testing sa ating mga kababayan dahil iyan nga po ang binibigay ng PhilHealth.”
Roque said even non-members of PhilHealth could avail themselves of free tests.
“As the author of the Universal Health Care Law in the 17th Congress, lahat po ng Pilipino ay miyembro ng PhilHealth. So wala pong dahilan para hindi PhilHealth ang magbayad ng inyong PCR test kung qualified ka makakuha ng PCR test,” he said.
“So hindi po hadlang kung hindi kayo miyembro, hindi kayo niri-require ng kahit anong ID, kinakailangan lang po ang pangalan ninyo at bibigyan naman kayo ng number ng PhilHealth.”
Last year, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which administers about a quarter of the country’s total Covid-19 tests, suspended its free testing due to PhilHealth’s inability to settle its near-P1 billion balance. The PRC charges PhilHealth P3,500 for every test it administers. John Ezekiel J. Hirro