PhilHealth Launches Z Benefits Package for Children with Developmental Disabilities

There are around 1.6 million cases of developmental disability that transpires among Filipino children are minors, according to a study. Therefore, in order to guarantee financial risk protection for all Filipinos including persons with disabilities, the government’s Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) launched the Z Benefit Package for children with developmental disabilities and support for children with hearing, visual, and mobility impairment last March 2, 2018.

What is the Z benefit package? What are the plans by medical and allied health professionals?

1. For developmental disability – The benefit this would include would be services for proper diagnosis in order to provide specific and individualized plans for therapy services. These children will be able to achieve specific milestones in their development, which will optimize their capacities and increase their participation in education and in the community.

2. For hearing impairment– This will include professional assessment, diagnostic test, hearing devices, habilitative/rehabilitative speech therapy that will enable CWDs to gain functionality in hearing and communication.

3. For visual impairment (low vision) –  services include vision assessment, provision of electronic and non-electronic optical devices, with appropriate rehabilitation that will preserve and rehabilitate the children’s ability for sight and purposeful activities.

Read: PhilHealth Cash Benefits For A Specific Illness

Lawyer Karisma Agraviador, public relations officer of PhilHealth-7, said that the Z-Benefit package is intended for children diagnosed with developmental disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, and global development delay. Why? Because these are the leading causes of disability in the country.

As of now, patients who have contributions for at least three months in the last six months may avail the health insurance of PhilHealth. But starting October 2018, we’ve increased this to at least six months, in the last 12 months.

Agraviador also said that at this time, PhilHealth has more than seven million active members in the Central Visayas, with annual collection of more than Php3 billion in 2017. Over two million of them are indigents and were enrolled as sponsored members. Senior Citizens are also considered as automatic members of PhilHealth.

As long as they are considered poor, especially those who are members of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and were identified through point of care program in the different local government units (LGUs).

The benefit package rates for assessment of children, rehabilitation and therapy and discharge assessment range from Php3, 626.00 to Php5, 276.00.

On the other hand, the Z Benefit package for mobility impairment will provide appropriate mobility devices and habilitative/rehabilitative therapy that can potentially stop the worsening of the conditions; moreover, these devices will help children with the impairment to be independent. So, in the long-run, it’s like treating and supporting impaired children simultaneously.

Developmental disability refers to the manifestation of delays, regressions or deviations in the cognitive-adaptive, sensorimotor, communication, social, emotional or behavioral developmental domains of a child. This condition begins during the developmental period of the child that is why timing is important in potentially mitigating the impact of such disability.

We are introducing this Z benefit package which is an improved, rationalized and relevant benefit for children with disabilities mainly to prevent the catastrophic spending of the poor and marginalized who are enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) while ensuring quality healthcare services. 

We are calling on our accredited HCIs that are capable of providing these mandatory services to children with disabilities to be our contracted facilities so that we can extend this package to as many children in need as possible, “said Dr. Celestina Ma. Jude P. de la Serna, Interim/OIC, PhilHealth President and CEO.

Among these services are the assessment and planning by a Medical Specialist and by allied health professionals such as Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapists using applicable standardized tests including rehabilitation therapy.

Last February 16, 2018, during the celebration of PhilHealth’s 22nd Anniversary, they announced that a benefit package for children with disabilities (CWDs) is now being developed to help address part, if not all, of their health care needs. This move is also in support to the Department of Health’s (DOH) expanded national program for disabled persons.

According to PhilHealth, “children should not be deprived of chances, entrée to proper schooling, social and health services. As an alternative, they should be given the support, considerations  and understanding they need. They have to be treated comparatively and help them live a typical life.”

Initially, tertiary government Health Care Institutions (HCIs) shall be engaged to provide these sets of services to children with developmental disabilities. Other capable government and private HCIs will eventually be contracted to expand the benefit utilization and operations.

What do you think about PhilHealth’s new plan for disabled people/children? Would this address the current problem we are having with disabilities and Philippine therapies now? Can it expand and bring fruit for more benefits, packages, and programs to support children who need it the most?

Sources: ABS-CBN, Smart Parenting

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