Universal Health Care Makes Private Insurance Coverage An Affordable Necessity

Universal Health Care Makes Private Insurance Coverage An Affordable Necessity

By any yardstick, the world has never been in better health. Since the start of the millenium, statistics have shown that infant mortality has halved and the life expectancy average is age 71. There are also more children getting immunized than ever before, which put diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS in retreat. Despite this, the chasm between this progress and the benefits that modern medicine offers has never been wider.

 

In the Philippines, the ratio of physicians to patients (per 1000 people) is a staggering 1:33,000 while hospital beds to patients is 1:1121 in NCR, according to data from the World Bank.

 

Medical professionals are said to be among our best human exports. However, when they leave to work in another country, it leaves millions of Filipinos without access to professional medical care and delivery of basic health services, further complicated by lack of access and affordability in poor rural provincial areas. Imagine the consequences of that.

 

Meanwhile, those who can afford to see a doctor often pay a crippling price. At average, 10% of annual household income contributes to out of pocket health related expenditure. What’s worse is the quality of what is paid for is often woeful, which is a terrible waste.

 

The goal of basic universal health care (UHC) hand in hand with health technology endeavors to resolve these problems by providing fair and unbiased access to legitimate private insurance that is sensible, affordable, and practical in the Philippines. It’s sensible because it not only yields benefits to an individual but to society as a whole. It’s affordable as more services can now be provided if the risk of falling ill is pooled. Lasty, it’s practical when the design of health insurance schemes in both public and private channels cover as many people as possible. Maria Health is the first health tech aggregator in the Philippines that enables simple, easy access to affordable, healthcare coverage at the click of a button.

 

Even if the coverage of the UHC bill is limited to just immunizations, basic surgeries and promotion of quality generic medicine, it still benefits the primary health care centers, which need the assistance more than the city hospitals. In addition, the services directly benefit those in need and, though limited, can actually prove to be more effective. They are also more sustainable because they cost less when compared to funding at the hospital level.

 

Since Public health care costs are government subsidized, it may seem like such a bill could hurt the business of private insurance companies, but it’s actually the contrary. See, UHC addresses this by driving awareness to the value of health and wellness as well as providing availability and access to basic healthcare services for all, regardless of socioeconomic status. Private insurance, meanwhile, can provide more specialized services to improve healthcare servicing in a public-private partnership. Working together, this will only enhance the overall health outcomes of the Filipino Society at large.

 

This then reinforces the idea that publicly offered health care doesn’t eradicate the need for private insurance, instead it actually compliments and enhances it. Singapore, for instance, has a subsidized system of hospitals that accepts everyone with a certain number of services. Private hospitals, meanwhile, offer services not available in the public hospitals and other extra amenities.

 

With both private and public working towards a better and healthier Philippine society, the case for the passing of basic UHC in the Philippines is made even more powerful.

Dr. Tanushka Melwani is a dentist by profession, who has more than 10 years worth of hands-on experience from when she practiced clinical dentistry in Mumbai, India. She later spent 6 years in Manila where she headed the strategic Health Benefit for a large BPO and managed the Health, Wellness and Insurance portfolio for over 35,000 employees. This gave her a better understanding of the Filipino health context and helped her realize the importance of the involvement of the public and private sector when it comes to managing healthcare. She currently heads partnerships for Maria Health, which allows her to align her advocacy with that of the company to provide simple, affordable access to healthcare for all Filipinos.


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About the Author

Dr. Tanushka Melwani

Dr. Tanushka Melwani is a dentist by profession, who has more than 10 years worth of hands-on experience from when she practiced clinical dentistry in Mumbai, India. She later spent 6 years in Manila where she headed the strategic Health Benefit for a large BPO and managed the Health, Wellness and Insurance portfolio for over 35,000 employees. This gave her a better understanding of the Filipino health context and helped her realize the importance of the involvement of the public and private sector when it comes to managing healthcare. She currently heads partnerships for Maria Health, which allows her to align her advocacy with that of the company to provide simple, affordable access to healthcare for all Filipinos.

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