Ian Alfredo Magno .
PURSUANT to Philhealth Circular No. 2018-0017, duly published on Sept. 12 2018, the current and existing Primary Care Benefit (PCB) Package of Philhealth has been expanded to include other sectors, such as the Formal Economy (employed), Lifetime members (retirees), and Senior Citizens.
Originally, the PCB, now EPCB (Expanded PCB), was made available to Indigent members (those included under the DSWD’s 4Ps program), Sponsored members (those whose premiums had been sponsored by LGUs or organized groups), Organized Groups, Land-based Overseas Workers (sea-based overseas workers are included in the employed sector), and Department of Education personnel, and their respective qualified dependents.
What is PCB?
Practically, PCB is a program dedicated as a preventive mechanism ultimately aimed at keeping basic health indicators in check. With this, any sign of illness is detected and addressed at the earliest instance, thus warding off that dreaded and costly hospital confinement. The program is comprised of a host of free preventive and diagnostic services, and certain drugs and medicines as well.
The preventive services are the following, free of charge: Consultation, BP Measurement, Breast Examination, Visual Inspection with acetic acid, and Body Measurement. Meanwhile, the Diagnostic services, likewise free-of-charge are the following, to wit: Complete Blood Count, Urinalysis, Fecalysis, Sputum Microscopy, and Fasting Blood Sugar, Lipid Profile, and Chest X-ray. To address commonly recurring illnesses, medicines are provided therefor, also free of charge, such as (for Asthma) Inhaled Short Acting Beta 2 Agonist, Inhaled Corticosteroid, Oral Corticosteroid; (For Acute Gastroenteritis with no or mild dehydration) Oral Rehydration Salts; (for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection or Pneumonia Low Risk) Amoxicillin, Erythromycin; and (for Urinary Tract Infection) Flouriquinolones; and such medicines needed for Hypertension and Diabetes.
To avail of the EPCB, members from the Formal Economy, Senior Citizens and Lifetime members may opt to be assigned at the nearest local health centers or rural health units. Such assignment shall be effective for one (1) year, which means that, once assigned, the members may not transfer to another health center/rural health unit until after one year therefrom. Such limitation likewise applies to the member’s qualified dependents.
Meanwhile, the significant change brought about by the expanded PCB or EPCB is the inclusion of PhilHealth accredited public and private level 1, 2 and 3 hospitals, infirmaries/primary care facilities, Ambulatory Surgical Clinics (ASCs) and medical outpatient clinics as EPCB providers. In consideration of the very limited capacity of health centers and rural health units, other health care institutions, both private and government, are now being engaged to ensure accessibility to the EPCB program.
This undertaking is in line with the Philippine Health Agenda, which aspires to achieve Universal Health Care by creating a health system that is equitable and inclusive to all; making sure that all Filipinos are provided essential health guarantees at every life stage, within each community.
(Lawyer Ian Alfredo T. Magno is marketing head of Philhealth. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)