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Pulong, lawmakers push for free annual checkups

DAVAO City First Congressional District Representative Paolo Duterte and two other lawmakers want the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) to provide free annual medical checkups for all its members to ensure that every Filipino can access preventive care to address potentially serious health conditions possibly in their early stages.
With all Filipinos automatically becoming Philhealth members under the Universal Health Care Act, free medical checkups should form part of their benefits, Duterte said.
Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Edvic Yap have filed House Bill (HB) 5074 intending to automatically entitle every Filipino to free blood sugar and cholesterol tests each year.
“To promote health, identify risks, and ensure early diagnosis, PhilHealth shall establish a system that allows access to a free annual medical check-up and ensure that Filipinos shall be accorded the quality health care services that they deserve,” according to the bill.
Duterte said in a statement, “investing in free medical checkups for every Filipino will help save lives and ensure that no one gets left behind when it comes to health care.”
Detecting potentially serious medical conditions in its early stages will benefit not only every Filipino but also Philhealth, as this would bring down the costs of providing coverage for expensive medical procedures that usually come with treating life-threatening diseases, Duterte added.
Under the bill, Filipinos can avail of free medical checkups in any government-run hospital or medical institution.
On top of free cholesterol and blood sugar tests, the three lawmakers also proposed the inclusion of expanded laboratory and diagnostic tests in the free annual medical checkup benefit “subject to the availability of Philhealth funds.”
“The State is tasked to institutionalize regular checkups for its citizens to determine their potential health concerns and avoid further complications. Every citizen must be able to exercise his or her right to health without incurring any financial burden,” the bill’s authors said.
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