President Benigno Aquino III signed into law a measure granting automatic, lifetime membership of senior citizens to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In a statement Tuesday, Senator Ralph Recto, principal author of the Senate version of Republic Act (RA 10645), said Aquino signed the measure last week.
Under RA 10645 or "An Act Providing for the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens,” all citizens who are 60 years old and above will receive the benefits and discounts extended to ordinary PhilHealth members by just presenting a valid ID that proves their real age.
“Magpakita lang sila ng ID bilang patunay na sila'y senior citizen at matatanggap na nila mula sa ospital ang karapatang benepisyong laan sa mga miyembro ng PhilHealth," Recto said.
The RA 10645 amends RA No. 994 or “The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010”and removes the qualification that a senior citizen has to be an indigent or poor before qualifying for PhilHealth coverage, with premium payments fully subsidized by the national government.
Based on Senate records, there are roughly 6.1 million senior citizens in the Philippines today, of which 3.94 million are covered by PhilHealth either as indigent, sponsored, lifetime member, or dependent.
Recto said the signing of the new law brings the remaining 2.16 million senior under PhilHealth coverage.
“Health insurance can never be called universal if it does not cover all seniors. Enrolling them must be automatic, not optional. The ideal is that the minute they blow out the candles on their 60th birthday cake to the moment they breathe their last – they should be PhilHealth members," Recto said.
'Early Christmas gift'
'Early Christmas gift'
Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, principal sponsor of RA 10645 and chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography, welcomed the President’s move, saying it can be considered an “early Christmas gift” to the Filipino elders.
“It is high time that we give back to our country's elders. In our culture, the condition and situation of a person in his or her advanced age is the reflection of the character of his or her children. How we take care of our senior citizens is also a mirror of our character as a nation," Guingona said in a separate statement.
“"It is the priority of this administration to give social protection services to all Filipinos. Let us start with our seniors," he added.
As of December 2013, there are a 76.90 million Filipinos covered by PhilHealth – 31.27 million of which are registered members and 45.63 million are dependents.
In 2013, PhilHealth reported P62 billion in premium contributions on top of P12.612 billion worth of subsidies from the national government.
Also last year, PhilHealth shelled out P55.559 billion in benefits payments.
Apart from Recto, the Senate version of RA 10645 was co-authored by Senators Guingona, Bam Aquino, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, JV Ejercito, Vicente Sotto III, Sergio Osmena, Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Sonny Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Manuel Lapid, Bongbong Marcos and Senate President Franklin Drilon. – VS, GMA News