ASEAN urged fund health care to minimize out-of-pocket spending

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THE EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) recommended that ASEAN countries address the issue of funding health care, as the healthcare protection gap remains an issue in the region.

In its “Driving Comprehensive Healthcare Policy in ASEAN” report, EU-ABC said on Monday, “While households face a health protection gap, the rising costs in healthcare provision poses a material threat to the sustainability of the healthcare system for governments. As reflected in the large healthcare protection gap, healthcare is underfunded in ASEAN.”

The health protection gap refers to the healthcare costs paid out of pocket instead of health insurance.

Citing a study by Swiss Re Institute, a unit of the reinsurance group, the health protection gap is about 10% of the average household income in Southeast Asia. For the Philippines, the gap is 32%.

EU-ABC said that the price of healthcare has been rising, putting financial strain on the government. EU-ABC recommends that finance departments look into creating tax incentives which will encourage the growth of private health insurance.

“We also recommend ASEAN member states collaborate with the private sector to develop a robust, sustainable health funding system that workers for patients and other stakeholders,” EU-ABC added.

The council also noted the importance of collaboration in ensuring access to universal healthcare in the region.

The EU-ABC said governments in the region should “develop a region-wide set of regulations regarding Public-Private Partnerships for social infrastructure, especially related to the healthcare industry and to engage with the private sector in developing public-private health initiatives in order to deliver better health services to patients.” — Gillian M. Cortez