In a quest to improve the quality of services and benefits provided by PhilHealth, the project was introduced as an innovation that aims to bring PhilHealth services and benefits closer and more directly accessible to every Filipino which can be realized by:
- Bridging PhilHealth and the people – This means removing the gap that separates the people from PhilHealth and hinders them from availing the basic health services and packages of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) of the government;
- Direct PhilHealth services to the people – This refers to cascading PhilHealth services within the proximity of every household in the barangay; and
- Mobilizing the Barangay as extension of PhilHealth – As the smallest unit of government, the barangay plays a vibrant and important role in reaching the people to extend basic health services of the government.
Background and Problem
Through this project, the following problems that obstruct the people from availing the benefits of the NHIP of the government have been identified:
- Distance and Geographical Barrier – PhilHealth offices are limitedly situated in cities and provincial capitals with at least 50 kilometers away from some or most barangays of Western Pangasinan which are situated in isolated islands and/or mountainous areas;
- Time Element and Transportation Expenses – Due to distance and geographical location, people in Santiago Island, Bolinao, Pangasinan spend so much of their time and money in availing PhilHealth services and benefits. A marginalized fisherman, for instance, spends at least five hundred pesos (Php 500.00) to avail of the basic government services such as those from PhilHealth; and
- Limited Number of PhilHealth personnel – Due to the limited number of staff and personnel, PhilHealth Western Pangasinan Local Health Insurance Office has not adequately brought the services and benefits of PhilHealth to the people especially to those from remote and isolated barangays. People in these areas are obstructed by these circumstances in utilizing the services of PhilHealth. And, in view of these problems, people in the barangays have lost interest in joining the NHIP of the government. This, in turn, resulted to the non-attainment of the Universal Health Coverage in the municipality of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
Solution and Impact
To address these problems, the proponent interacted with the people from the community to listen to their stories, discover their real needs, and assess the actual situation at the grassroots level. An actual analysis on these concerns was conducted to discover the root causes and find possible solutions to these problems. Through PhilHealth Sa Barangay, solutions that would probably address the problems were introduced. Goals were set, focus was placed on the objectives, and deliverables were committed to realize the purpose of the project. Barangay Health Workers and Barangay Officials were trained, empowered and mobilized as advocates and implementers of the project. They gained confidence from the capability building conducted for the proper administration and implementation of the project. Through the competence of these barangay health workers and officials, PhilHealth Sa Barangay is progressively gaining ground in bringing PhilHealth services and benefits nearer, faster, and more manageable to everyone. Moreover, through the PhilHealth Sa Barangay, people are able to get rid of the add-on expenses for transportation and are able to save their time because right in their neighborhood, PhilHealth services are readily available.
To realize the purpose of the project, collaboration was established with groups of individuals, government agencies and other stakeholders who are dedicated and committed to help and willing to serve the people unconditionally. Partnership with the Local Government Unit in bringing PhilHealth services and benefits in the heart of every barangay was forged through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which legalized the identity of PhilHealth Sa Barangay. The institution of the noble purpose of the project, that is, to bring the services of PhilHealth in the very heart of each of the seven barangays of Santiago Island, Bolinao, Pangasinan was then put in place.
A PhilHealth sa Barangay handbook was also developed which is a detailed and comprehensive compilation of systems, processes, and procedures for PhilHealth membership enrolment, payment of PhilHealth premium contribution, and PhilHealth benefits availment. Eventually, the project was also promoted and advertised in radio programs and through tarpaulins and notices.
Note: This initiative is based on the Public Management Development Program (PMDP) Re-Entry Plan of Mr. Abraham A. Ballares of the PMDP Middle Manager Class Batch 10 (Binhi).