PHM Philippines: Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere – At What Cost to the People?

PRESS RELEASE | April 5, 2019


Edelina dela Paz, MD


Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere – At What Cost to the People?

The World Health Organization chose Universal Health Coverage (UHC): Everyone, Everywhere  as the focus to celebrate World Health Day 2019 on April 7.  The World Health Organization has been actively endorsing UHC.  UHC was also the main theme of the October 25, 2018 Global Conference on Primary Health Care to commemorate the Alma Ata Declaration — “From Alma-Ata towards Universal Health Care Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals”


Universal Health Coverage or universal health insurance coverage? The People’s Health Movement-Philippines dare asks the World Health Organization and governments implementing the UHC program, at what cost to the People?


In the era of neo-liberal globalization, the UHC is another deceptive program to commercialize and privatize health care.  UHC is masquerading as “social health insurance” but in reality, it is a health market innovation that would provide population with “health service packages.” UHC is nothing more than additional raking of profits for big businesses and government bureaucrats, this time using pooled membership contributions of workers and government subsidy for the poor. With corporate management power it can invest a portion of the funds in businesses, tie up with health providers, mainly private hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations and set limits for insurance claims.

UHC is being implemented in countries where the state itself is committed to neoliberal policies and renege on its responsibility to provide health care to its people and the Philippines is no exception. The Duterte government recently enacted Universal Health Care Law. The UHC is nothing but a health insurance program which requires population coverage or compulsory inclusion of every Filipino into the National Health Insurance Program/PhilHealth and, of course, pay premium.  Health care delivery will now be based on the “health insurance package” defined by the PhilHealth.

UHC will mean more out-of-pocket spending, more commercialized and privatized health care.  This is not the health care system the people need. The People’s Health Movement-Philippines, together with people, pushes for a free, comprehensive, progressive and unified public health care system that is tax-based and anchored on the principle of health as a fundamental human right. #