PhilHealth to Cover Costs for Covid-19 Testing and Quarantine

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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles confirmed that patients with suspected COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) that are members of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will not be charged for the test and other medical costs. This statement came from Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday.

The worth of health package that can be availed by PhilHealth members will be Php 14,000, said Duque, while those who are going to be diagnosed with moderate pneumonia will be entitled to avail a package worth of Php 16,000. However, those beneficiaries who will develop severe pneumonia will be charged Php 32,000 through PhilHealth.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 test kit costs Php 8,000 and a patient needs to be tested at least three times. Aside from this, patients also need two more tests before the hospital can finally discharge them. Though, according also to Health Secretary Duque, tests for nose and throat swabs will the free. 

On the other hand, PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales also confirmed on Thursday that they have enough funds at the moment to handle the situation; meaning they are ready to shoulder the costs for the COVID-19 testing and other medical matters in the local hospitals for its members. However, he then claimed that when COVID-19 becomes epidemic in the country, they would need to review their capacity and their resources first because as of now, according to Morales, “that’s not a concern”. 

As of now, the entire Philippines is under lockdown but it was announced earlier that people traveling outside the country such overseas FIlipino workers (OFW), balikbayans, and foreigners will be allowed to leave from any port at any time during the entire lockdown period. 

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved the test kits invented by Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines(UP). The additional kits will aid in field testing for the disease to be supported by The Philippine General Hospital. These kits will also be coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center. In addition, Nograles said that the research and development company Manila Healthtek is also developing a “rapid diagnostic test kit”, which is set for a field validation study. 

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