Hospitals have been cutting down on work to keep expenses low due to state health insurer PhilHealth’s debt of P6 billion, according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines.
Its president, Dr. Jose de Grano, said that this amount was intended for reimbursements last December.
Hospitals that are members of PHAPi had to resort to staggered hours and work-from-home setups “just to survive,” he said, while some even had to reduce their bed capacities.
The amount owed continues to grow as hospitals keep on admitting new cases amid the current health crisis.
“That’s what members have been complaining to us and asking us what we are doing,” he said. “Actually, we are not stopping from reminding PhilHealth of their debt. They said they have the money, but none is reaching us.”
The group has also approached the government to ensure that the agency pays its debt. They revealed that despite a supposed 60-day deadline for payments, the agency sometimes takes up to nine months to do so. To aggravate matters, payments come in amounts that are described as just “drops” in a bucket of debt.
De Grano pointed out that unlike government hospitals, they cannot rely on funding from Congress.
The issue between PhilHealth and PHAPi stems from all the way back in 2019 when the latter threatened to cut ties with the insurer if they did not pay its debts.
In May of last year, then-chief Rustico Jimenez said that over 300 hospitals were in danger of shutting down because the agency did not pay insurance claims. PhilHealth, however, refuted this allegation.
The state insurer has also previously faced charges of graft and corruption which resulted in investigations and a change of leadership.