PhilHealth extends coverage to MILF fighters

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STATE-run health insurance firm Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Friday said a total of 11,000 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be assured of health services as part of peace dividends.

Lawyer Alexander Padilla, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, said the government will fully subsidize the premium contributions of returning MILF fighters.

Padilla added the government will spend more than P26 million to provide health insurance coverage for the Bangsamoro fighters, including their family members.

“Each family will receive P2, 400 per year,” he said.


“As part of the peace dividends, they returned to the fold of law as part of their complaints was lack of government concern or neglect. They were given PhilHealth benefits not because they are fighters but because they will now be productive civilians of a nation,” the PhilHealth chief explained.

Padilla said an initial 4,000 MILF fighters are now enjoying the comprehensive benefit packages of PhilHealth.

“As of this time, only 4,000 names have been submitted by the MILF to the government,” he added.

The PhilHealth chief noted that the corporation would also offer the same benefit packages to members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who will return to the fold of the law.

“As of now, there’s no agreement yet with the [the Communist Party of the Philippines and its NPA armed wing],” Padilla said.

Early this year, the Philippine government and the MILF signed a historic peace agreement to put an end to decades of rebellion in Mindanao and pave the way for economic development there.

In the agreement, the MILF agreed to drop its bid for a separate state and settle for parliamentary self-rule in areas to be called Bangsamoro autonomous region, which will be established by 2016.

The Bangsamoro replaces another Muslim autonomous region that was agreed upon with a former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front, which was declared a failure by the Philippine government.

The 11,000-strong MILF, which used to be part of a larger secessionist group that signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, has been battling government troops in southern Philippines since 1969, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

Decades of conflict has claimed at least 120,000 lives, displaced thousands and brought massive destruction to property.

Meanwhile, Padilla said PhilHealth is also planning to expand social health insurance to inmates and orphans, as the corporation aims to enroll around 90 million PhilHealth beneficiaries by next year.

“We are still studying that [plan to enroll all prisoners]… because even though they already forfeited their rights [after they were convicted], they still have right to health,” he added.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona earlier said all Filipinos must be enrolled in PhilHealth, including persons with disabilities and street children.

Since 1995, around 79 million individuals have been PhilHealth members.

PhilHealth also extended its “No Balance Billing” policy to household helpers or kasambahays as defined in Republic Act 10361 or the Kasambahay Law.

As full-fledged PhilHealth members, household helpers are entitled to substantial coverage when seeking treatments in accredited hospitals, especially if they or any of their dependent get admitted in government facilities, where the “No Balance Billing” policy is implemented.

Under the case rate payment mechanism, if a kasambahay is confined in a government hospital due to high-risk pneumonia, the member may avail himself of a benefit package worth P32,000 for the treatment of the illness.

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