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PhilHealth's actuarial life down to 1 year due to COVID-19 pandemic —official

PhilHealth's actuarial life is down to one year from more than 10 years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said Tuesday.

At a Senate hearing on the alleged irregularities in the corporation, PhilHealth's acting Senior Vice President Nerissa Santiago said this is due to "decreased collections" and an "expected increase in benefit payouts" caused by the pandemic.

"We are expecting by 2021 we will be on the red already, so it's only one year because of the pandemic in terms of actuarial life," she said. 

She said the state insurer will run out of reserve funds and into deficit by 2021, and that it can only survive through government subsidies.

"In terms of keeping it afloat, the government has the responsibility to keep it afloat so we can only survive with additional contributions coming from the government," Santiago said.

She said PhilHealth expects a net operating loss of about P90 billion this year. If the pandemic persists into 2021, she said their operating loss could reach P147 billion.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he was "dumbfounded" by what he called a "worrisome" development.

"This is very serious," he said. "We would like really to hear what steps you are going to undertake. Assuming that your projections are true, this is really a cause of concern for the entire country." 

Funds not enough

Also at the same hearing, PhilHealth board director Alejandro Cabading said their funds are starting to get depleted and will not last until the end of the year should leaks remain unplugged.

He said existing funds will not even be enough to pay loans should irregularities persist moving forward.

"Kung 'yan po ang trend, hindi po 'yan natin ma-plug kaagad, I don't think so the money of PhilHealth will last even until the end of the year. That's my projection," he told senators.

"Actually, pinagsasabing may pera tayo pero ang naiwan sa PhilHealth ay kulang pa na pambayad ng utang, 'yung regular benefit claims," he added.

This comes amid allegations that non-COVID-19 cases were charged as COVID-19 cases because the patient tested positive for the disease, even if the treatment given to them was for unrelated cases.

"We are already on the cliff financially, that I could said confidently. Medyo talagang tagilid na. We have to check on this issue," said Cabading.

PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales was also present at the Senate hearing but has yet to respond to such claims as of this posting time.

In June, Morales assured the public that funds of the state insurer are enough to last 2020 even amid the global health crisis. KBK, GMA News