Senator Sonny Angara, a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) survivor, spent P400,000 for treatment at a private hospital in the country.
"My hospital bill was P400,000. I think my bill wasn't as big. I was fortunate I didn't need to be taken to the ICU (intensive care unit)," Angara said at a virtual conference with reporters on Thursday.
"I think the stories of these huge million-peso bills are of patients who needed to be intubated and had to be in the ICU," he added.
The senator said he was confined at the hospital for eight days—four days in the emergency room and four days in a regular room—and underwent blood tests and ECG on top of taking various off-label drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.
Angara said he tested negative twice for the novel coronavirus on April 1 and 3 and got discharged a few days later.
Last week, the Private Hospitals Association Philippines Inc. said that COVID-19 patients in private hospitals shoulder the cost of personal protective equipment being used through the course of their treatment due to the lack of donated supplies.
PHAPI President Dr. Rustico Jimenez said the hospitalization cost of a COVID-19 patient at a private hospital could reach up to P3 million.
"Pwede pang umabot ng P3 milyon kasi po ang gastos mo sa respirator everyday umaabot 'yun ng mga P20,000 to P30,000 a day. Eh 'yung mga gamot pa po at saka 'yung gagastusin na PPE kasi kung nandoon ka sa intensive care unit, 'yung mga tao na magbabantay sa'yo palit po ng palit po iyon," Jimenez said.
Angara said that during his hospitalization, he thought of other Filipinos who are also experiencing the same lonely and dangerous ordeal.
"I was wondering if our countrymen are getting the same level of care in the public hospitals," he said.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, COVID-19 patients are usually confined at hospitals for a period of two to three weeks.
Out of 6,981 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines as of April 23, 3,175 are currently admitted at hospitals.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) said it would shoulder the full cost of treatment of COVID-19 patients on April 14, when the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine was originally supposed to end. The lockdown has since been extended to the end of April.
Starting April 15, the state health insurer said it would implement a new benefit package for COVID-19 patients depending on severity of illness.
Under the new benefit package, coverage for patients with mild pneumonia is at P43,997, P143,267 for those with moderate pneumonia, P333,519 for those with severe pneumonia, and P786,384 for those with critical pneumonia.
PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales recently said the agency considers covering the entire cost of treatment of COVID-19 patients belonging to the 18 million low-income families receiving emergency cash subsidies from the government. -MDM, GMA News