SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez wants the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to heed the call of Filipino patients for the state-run insurer to cover 50% of their hospital bill.

In a statement on Sunday, the leader of the House of Representatives also questioned the PhilHealth over complaints he received that in some instances, only 15%-20% of patients’ hospital bills were being covered.

“People are hoping that half the cost of their bills when admitted in private [hospitals] will be answered by PhilHealth so members can only pay half,” Mr. Romualdez said.

He also noted receiving reports that PhilHealth shoulders only 30% of the cost of doctors’ and medical specialists’ fees, leaving the bulk of the bill to the sick PhilHealth member.

During House deliberations on the 2024 budget in September last year, PhilHealth said it owes local hospitals about P27 billion and committed to pay this balance in three months.

Meanwhile, Congress has earmarked P1.25 billion for its Cancer Assistance Fund amid reports that the disease kills an estimated 96 Filipinos daily, making it the third leading cause of death in the Philippines.

This year’s budget is 150% higher than the P500 million in 2023, according to Makati Rep. Luis Jose Angel N. Campos, Jr. “The fund will pay for the cost of cancer screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and its care-related components, including the required diagnostics and laboratories for eight priority cancer types,” he said.

Mr. Campos, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, said the budget is on top of the P1 billion allocated for the National Integrated Cancer Control Program. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz