Welfare and Healthcare in the Philippines

In 2000 the Philippines had about 95,000 physicians, or about 1 per 800 people. In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40 percent were government run and 60 percent private, with a total of about 85,000 beds, or about one bed per 900 people. The leading causes of morbidity as of 2002 were diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, hypertension, tuberculosis, heart disease, malaria, chicken pox, and measles. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25 percent of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Other estimates state that there may have been as many as 9,400 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2001.

Expenditures on health in 2002 totaled about US$2.2 billion, or about 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Government expenditures on health accounted for only about 15 percent of total health expenditures, 30 percent of per capita health expenditures, and about 0.9 percent of all government spending. Per capita health expenditures in 2002 totaled US$28, of which government spending accounted for US$8. Both total and per capita expenditures on health have continued to decline since at least 1990, leading to a decrease in the share of GDP attributable to health expenditures. The main cause of this decline has been the high population growth rate. The government share of total spending on health also has declined steadily, and with more people, there has been less to spend per person from both the government and private sectors.

Welfare: The Philippines’ social security system was established in 1957 and is compulsory for all employees, public and private. Retirement is compulsory at age 65 but optional at 60. An employees’ compensation program, added in 1975, pays double compensation for work-related death, injury, or illness to employees who are not self-employed. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation was established in 1995 to administer the National Health Insurance Program, with the stated goal of providing universal coverage. Annual premiums are about US$22. Retirees who have reached the age of 65, or who are older than 60 but not yet 65 and have already paid 120 monthly premiums, pay nothing. Depending on their level of income, heads of poorer households may pay the annual premium and have it include three other family members, as well as themselves. Indigents may have their entire premiums paid in part by the national government and in part by their local government. Benefits do not necessarily cover the full costs of medical expenses, and many poor people still cannot afford to pay the difference.