SENATOR Lito Lapid filed a bill to enhance the ability of patients to choose the healthcare that is best for them, by allowing them to make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, and the price and quality of a good service in advance.
Senate Bill 2334 also known as the “Medical Bill Transparency Act,” requires hospitals and health care providers to be more transparent by informing the patients about actual prices to help prevent “surprise billing” or patients receiving unexpected bills at inflated prices.
Senator Lapid said that despite the existence of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, the Philippine health care system still has not fully addressed its issue in the medical pricing aspect, such as transparency of medical expenses or bills. According to the 2012 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the out-of-pocket health expenditures increased by 150% from 2000 to 2012. These high healthcare costs push Filipino households into poverty.
“Bagamat malaking tulong ang Universal Health Care Law para masigurong makakatanggap ng de kalidad at abot-kayang pagpapagamot at check-up ang ating mga kababayan, batid natin na umiinda pa rin ang maraming Pilipino kaugnay sa “surprise billing” na malaking dagok lalo sa mga kaanak ng may sakit. Kaya sa aking panukala, hinihiling ko na isapubliko ng mga ospital at healthcare providers ang presyo ng kanilang mga serbisyo para makapili ng maayos ang ating mga kababayan kung saan sila magpapagamot at nang hindi sila masusurpresa sa bayarin,” Lapid explained.
The bill also wants to ensure that patients have the necessary information in choosing the healthcare they want and need. Lapid’s proposed measure also wants to eliminate unnecessary barriers to price and quality transparency; to increase the availability of meaningful price and quality information to patients; to enhance patient’s control over their own healthcare resources, including health insurance coverage.
The bill also states that the Secretary of Health shall craft regulations consistent with applicable law, to require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information. This will include charges and information based on negotiated rates for common items and services, in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format.
“Layunin ng ating panukalang batas na ipaalam ng mga ospital at health care providers sa publiko kung magkano mismo ang kanilang sisingilin sa kanilang mga serbisyo, gamot, at ibang bayarin para maging malinaw ito sa kanilang mga pasyenteng. Tungkulin din ng mga ospital na i-update ang mga impormasyong ito tuwing may mga pagbabago. Higit sa lahat, kailangan ng isang malinaw na monitoring system para matiyak ng Secretary of Health kung sumusunod ba ang lahat sa hangaring transparency ng batas,” Lapid cited.
Senator Lapid in his bill also pushes for transparency in health insurance coverage. Here, the Secretaries of Health and Finance shall jointly issue regulations requiring healthcare providers, health insurance issuers, and self-insured group health plans to provide or facilitate access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs for items or services to patients before they receive care.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Finance shall issue guidance to expand the ability of patients to select health insurance plans that cover low-cost preventive care, and/or medical care for individuals with chronic conditions.