THE rising incidents of depression and related mental illnesses prompted a senator to seek the expansion of the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) primary care benefit package to cover psychiatric consultations
Sen. Sonny Angara on Monday said mental and behavioral disorders may lead to impairment in judgement, self-inflicted pain, or worse, suicide.
“This can be prevented. Early intervention through consultation with psychiatrists and proper medication should be readily accessible to ordinary Filipinos,” he said.
“Hindi dapat maging hadlang, lalo na sa mga mahihirap, ang malaking gastusin para sila ay magpatingin at magpagamot (High costs should not be a deterrent to consultation and cure, particularly among the poor),” Angara said.
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Globally, more than 300 million people live with depression which is a leading cause of ill health and disability. Angara noted in the 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) study, the Philippines had the highest incident of depression in Southeast Asia.
Angara stressed the importance of early intervention and prevention in the treatment of mental illnesses and urged PhilHealth to cover fees for consultations with psychiatrists as present coverage does not include such medical care and the medicines needed for cure.
PhilHealth only covers hospitalization costs due to acute attacks of mental and behavioral disorders at P7,800 in subsidy to members.
Angara is pushing the expansion of the health package to include free check-ups and consultations, laboratory tests and medicines to all PhilHealth members.