Senators working to increase free dialysis sessions for indigents

By Leonel Abasola

September 11, 2022, 4:29 pm

<p>National Kidney and Transplant Institute hemodialysis unit<em> (Courtesy of Imee Marcos FB)<br /></em></p>

National Kidney and Transplant Institute hemodialysis unit (Courtesy of Imee Marcos FB)

MANILA – Senators urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to offer indigent kidney patients more free dialysis treatments.

In July, PhilHealth increased its coverage for outpatient hemodialysis from 90 to a maximum of 144 sessions until December 31 for members and their dependents with chronic kidney disease stage 5 and who are registered in the PhilHealth Dialysis Database.

The 91st to 144th sessions shall be exclusively used for outpatient dialysis only and any unused sessions will not be carried over to 2023.

“With the number of Filipinos who suffer from kidney disease, many are also unable to seek treatment. The lines are long at the NKTI (National Kidney and Transplant Institute) and other public hospitals where the cost of dialysis is lower. Getting sick these days is expensive, especially the cost of dialysis treatments at private healthcare centers,” Senator Imee Marcos said in a statement on Sunday.

Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority as of May showed that kidney-related diseases are among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country.

Marcos said she will file bill for a fixed 180 dialysis sessions for indigents.

“This means extra savings for indigent patients, in addition to PhilHealth benefits that reduce the average PHP3,500 cost of dialysis per session,” Marcos said on the day of the 105th birth anniversary of her father, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who died of end-stage renal failure in 1989.

The NKTI was built in 1981, a world-class facility for renal, urologic, vascular and organ transplant health, during the administration of Marcos Sr.

Marcos visited the NKTI on Friday as she has made it her mission to offer free dialysis services annually to honor her father.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has already filed a measure mandating PhilHealth to provide free dialysis to all its members.

The proposed Free Dialysis Act of 2022 tasks PhilHealth, in consultation with the Health Technology Assessment Council, to develop a comprehensive dialysis benefit package which shall fully cover all costs of hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis treatments, sessions, and procedures done in PhilHealth accredited-health facilities

Senator Risa Hontiveros also renewed her appeal to PhilHealth to continue providing free dialysis sessions, adding each patient needs at least 156 dialysis for a complete treatment for one year or PHP12,000 weekly expenses.

She urged the Department of Health to intensify its health promotion and disease prevention, including the early detection of possible renal problems in children.

Senator Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, is pushing for the establishment of dialysis centers in national, provincial, and regional hospitals to ensure that all patients can easily access treatment without having to travel far.

A similar bill was filed by Senator JV Ejercito requiring all regional and provincial government hospitals to establish, operate, and maintain a dialysis ward or unit and provide free dialysis treatment to indigent patients. (PNA)