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ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list files a new bill seeking free annual check-up for all Filipinos

In line with the group’s continued vision to make healthcare accessible to Filipinos, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Ray Florence Reyes filed the “Free Annual Medical Check-up Act of 2021” bill which seeks no-billing yearly medical check-up inclusive for all Filipinos.

Filed under House Bill No. 430 for the incoming 19th Congress, and an adoption of the HB 9072 filed by then ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Michael Defensor, the bill recognizes the huge and many vulnerabilities of the country, cracked open by the COVID-19 pandemic, in its health sector specifically in preventive measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic opened what is fundamentally wrong in our health system. It outright attacked our citizens with vulnerabilities, many of which having conditions that could have been addressed at early stages,” Rep. Reyes explained.

The measure aims to establish a program that provides citizens with free annual check-ups including, but not limited to, blood sugar and cholesterol tests. It also aims for the program to be accessible and availed by citizens for the whole calendar year. The establishing, implementation, funding, and screening with which to be led by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“Annual check-ups can identify ailments at the early stages, and treatments can be cheaper which can then increase household savings. Which in turn, aids with freeing up our hospital capacity to attend to more urgent and ambulatory cases, saving countless lives in the process,” Rep. Reyes highlighted.

Citing a 2018 study by Dayrit, Lagrada, et al., Rep. Reyes explained that Filipinos’ care-seeking behavior has been heavily dictated by their ability to pay. This is corroborated by the 2021 Preliminary Results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FEIS) report, which enumerated that Filipino households only spend 3.3% on health, with food expenditure taking almost half of the total expense.

“Preventive care has been largely at the expense of Filipino households. Seen as an additional cost, many citizens opt to delay care-seeking and instead seek remedial and traditional treatment,” Rep. Reyes interpreted.

In an article published by Business World, it detailed that households still bore most of the spending burden for healthcare as private out-of-pocket spending, accounting for 47.9% of the total health expenditure. Of the total spending for health, 30.1% has been spent on noncommunicable diseases.

“There is a need to shore up the country’s health response by providing an opportunity for Filipinos to access care without incurring additional costs,” Rep. Reyes penned.

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