Last February 20, 2019, President Rodrigo R. Duterte affixed his signature to the Universal Health Care (UHC) law or Republic Act No. 11223 as witnessed by lawmakers in a special ceremony in Malacañang.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), UHC, also referred to as Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (KP), is the “provision to every Filipino of the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, fairly financed, and appropriately used by an informed and empowered public”. It is a government mandate that seeks to ensure that every Filipino has access to the full spectrum of health care, which includes preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care for medical, dental, mental, and emergency health services. This also involves providing adequate resources to Filipinos such as health human resources, health facilities and health financing.
Now, how this bill will affect the dental health of Filipinos?
As per Dr. Felix Asoy, president of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) Cebu chapter, dental care is the most neglected aspect of the health and wellness among Filipinos. Even dentists in the best dental clinics of Makati, Quezon City and other progressive cities of the Philippines witness how alarming the reports and news are. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 Filipinos carry dental problems. Moreover, cases of tooth cavities and adults aged 7 to 28 years are prevalent. Not only that, periodontal diseases are also widespread among the elderly.
With the UHC law, Filipinos can and should expect a decrease in these alarming figures in through lower costs, improved access and adequate human resources.
The law intends to register every Filipino in the National Health Insurance Program. Filipinos will then be considered to possess “immediate eligibility” to have access to dental services. They will have financial risk protection by knowing their entitlements and responsibilities. Moreover, the following funding sources will be used for the UHC Program to help Filipinos:
- DOH annual budget
- Revenues from sin taxes
- PAGCOR (50% of the national government’s share)
- PCSO (40% of the fund, net of documentary stamp tax payments and mandatory contributions)
- PhilHealth members’ contributions
- Government subsidies to PhilHealth
Improved access to premium dental clinics located in Makati, Quezon City, Metro Manila and other cities of the Philippines is also promised. Facilities are also said to be upgraded to accommodate larger capacity. The government will also make an effort to provide quality dental care even in the hard-to-reach sections of the community.
To improve the ratio of the health professional to patient ratio, all graduates of health-related courses who receive government-funded scholarships are required to work in the public sector for three years as per the UHC law. This is believed to solve the insufficient number of health professionals around the country.
It is good to know that the government of the Philippines is making an effort to improve the dental health of its countrymen. With the passage of this law, quality dental care from premium dental clinics of Makati, Taguig, Manila, Cavite, Bulacan and other cities and provinces is now expected to be within the reach of every Filipino.