Monday, August 9, 2010

PhilHealth draws up benefit package for HIV/AIDS patients

By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has come up with a benefit package for people with HIV/AIDS to fortify efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal No. 6, which is to “halt or reverse the spread” the virus.

In PhilHealth Circular 19-2010, the agency said outpatients with HIV/AIDS are entitled to a P30,000 insurance package for one year, provided that the infection has been “confirmed” by the Sexually Transmitted Disease/AIDS Central Cooperative Laboratory or Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

This benefit package aims to increase the proportion of the population having access to effective HIV/AIDS treatment and patient education measures,” said PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Dr. Rey Aquino.

But according to Dr. Susan Gregorio, medical specialist of the multi-sector Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), the benefit package is “small,” considering that the monthly cost of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment that an HIV patient needs is P15,000.

“I don’t know why it is like that because during our previous meetings, the amount we were eyeing was much higher,” she said.

ARV is a treatment protocol given to HIV patients when the level of their CD4 cells, which the AIDS virus attacks, goes down to 300 from the normal count of 1,200. ARV treatment helps prevent the progression of HIV into full-blown AIDS.

Gregorio said the P15,000 per month does not include the cost of other medicines, laboratory examinations and other medical needs of an HIV patient.

Some 500 HIV patients in the country are receiving free ARV treatment from the Department of Health (DOH) through the funding provided by non-government organizations.

The PhilHealth package shall cover the “drugs and medicines, laboratory examinations including CD4 level determination test and test for monitoring of ARV toxicity and professional fees of providers.”

“The package will be released in four quarterly payments; each sub-package is worth P7,500 payable to the recognized treatment hub of accredited facilities. A maximum of four treatment sub-packages per year may be claimed by the treatment hub,” the circular stated.

From January 1984 to June 2010, the DOH registered a total of 5,233 HIV cases, 847 of which have progressed into AIDS.


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