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Philhealth introduces new benefit package for members with 'catastrophic' illnesses
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines --The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Monday unveiled so-called "Z benefit" package to its members, an illnesses that push patients into prolonged hospitalization and very expensive treatment.

President Benigno Aquino III and Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona led the launch of the new PhilHealth package benefits for catastropic illnesses at the Malacanang Palace on Monday.

PhilHealth president and chief executive Dr. Eduardo P.. Banzon, in a press conference at Casa Roces Restaurant in San Miguel, Manila following the launch, said that initially, the "Z" benefit covered childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in children, breast cancer (early stage or stage 0-111-A), prostate cancer (low to intermediate risk) -- known top diseases in the country.

The package costs for the complete treatment of these cases are P210,000 for ALL , and P100,000 each for breast and prostate cancer.

Included in the package are payment for hospital services such as hospital room and board fees, drugs and laboratory exams, operating room and professional fees for the entire course of treatment, including mandatory and other services required per illness.

Meanwhile, the Z benefit shall be paid directly to the reference hospital thus PhilHealth members will have their benefit automatically deducted from their total hospital bill.

Among the hospitals that have committed to provide Z benefits include the Philippine Children's Medical Center in Quezon City for treatment of ALL; Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila for breast cancer; and National Kidney Transplant Institute in Quezon City for prostate cancer.

Some 15 government hospitals have already been contracted by PhilHealth nationwide.

"We really need to aggressively reduce household out-of-pocket health care costs, especially in times of catastropic illnesses that may even or even further push Filipinos into poverty," Banzon said.

Likewise, those under DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)-sponsored program and local government units (LGUs) PhilHealth-sponsored program could avail of the "No Balance Billing" (NBB), or the "walang dagdag bayad" policy for Z benefit while fixed co-pay will be applied to non-Sponsored members (about 70 to 80 percent will be paid by the PhilHealth).

Accordingly, in the non-sponsored members, such in the case of breast cancer, PhilHealth covers about P100,000 or about 70 to 80 for treatment coverage and only about P 30,000 shouldered by the patients itself.

In addition to these cancers, Banzon assured PhilHealth members that in the coming days other diseases where Z benefit package had been developed or are being developed include end-stage renal disease and congenital cardiac diseases.

"Better benefits come with quality service. We want to lessen the burden of our members afflicted with catastropic diseases by improving not just the benefits but also ensure hassle-free availment," Banzon said.