Health expert presses govt, PhilHealth to expand coverage for heart disease treatment

By , on February 3, 2015

Philhealth Facebook page
Philhealth Facebook page

MANILA — A health expert from the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) urged Tuesday the government, through the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), to consider in its line of priorities on giving coverage for management of heart diseases as a way of giving love to Filipino patients suffering from heart disease.

“We call on the government and PhilHealth to make the cost affordable and reachable for our countrymen through extensive Philhealth coverage and also subsidy on the management of medications,” said Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia, PHA director/advocacy committee chair in a health forum conducted by the Philippines College of Physicians (PCP) at Annabel’s Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

Garcia also said that it would be beneficial for the people if the cost of medicine for those suffering heart disease would be subsidize because more often, the very same people suffering from heart diseases were also those taking other expensive medications.

Ong added that it was sad to note that almost 60 percent of the population who belongs to class D sectors are not taking medicines because of financial constraints and lacking enough awareness on how they can avoid the diseases associated with the heart.

She cited as an example that the usual cost for somebody who has a confirmed heart disease is at the average of Php 1,000 a month for the medication alone because there are other related expenses that need treatments like cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

The expert further added that severe heart disease are often costly for it requires thrombolytic medication (medication that dissolves blood clot in time of emergencies).

Thromobolytics drug ranges from Php 20,000 to Php 60,000 per vial,” she said.

Thrombolytics are used in the hospital as soon as possible after a heart attack. They work best if they are given within 3 hours of a heart attack.

After a heart attack, thrombolytic medicines help to get blood flowing back to the heart.

She added that such was a one shot deal for if that medication will not work, then treatment goes more expensive for such will require “angiogram” (x-ray of the arteries near the heart to see blood vessels) which cost Php 60,000 to Php 80,000.

She added that after that the next procedure will be “angioplasty/bypass” (a procedure use to open the block to allow blood and oxygen to delivery to the heart’s muscle).

“Automatically, angioplasty cost ranges from Php 300,000.00. Actually, the coverage under the Philhealth at present is not specific. While there is a coverage such was limited for those admitted hypertension. For heart diseases, the coverage was not specific for the treatment,” she said.

She said that it will be a big help if PhilHealth can provide a bigger intervention and medical management can be enjoyed by the people who will undergo bypass or angioplasty.

“I am not saying that there is none, but it is very much low compared to actually what is being needed by our people,” she said.

She said that they are actually trying to coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) and had been discussing such with PhilHealth people to actually include specifics on the management of heart disease.

She added that for a start it will be a big leap to help if the “stents” used in the treatment can be subsidized for such was very costly.

She said that if the PhilHealth coverage for those with heart ailments will be more better, more people will seek early treatment and medications before everything comes to worst due to undecided conditions resulting from fear on financial inadequacy in the treatment and medication.

Heart diseases are often results of lifestyle modifiable and non-modifable factors.

The modifiable risk factors means that they can be prevented through lifestyle habits.

These are smoking, sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

The non modifiable factors includes age and sex.

Based on the global statistics, cardiovascular diseases account for 17 millions deaths globally this year.

Other components of cardiovascular disease are stroke, hypertension, disease of blood vessels.

Coronary artery disease accounts to almost half or 48 percent of all deaths cause of death.

In a WHO statistics it was estimated that in 2020 the global number of deaths from coronary artery disease will rise from 7.6 million to 11.1 million.