Philhealth CEO quits

Rappler.com
(UPDATED) During his stint at Philhealth, Dr Eduardo Banzon pushed for an increase in premiums. But its implementation has been postponed for several times now.

SURPRISE MOVE: Resigned Philhealth president Eduardo Banzon (left) with Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who's now OIC of Philhealth. .

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a move that surprised the health sector, the president and CEO of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp has resigned.

The Department of Health on Monday, January 14, confirmed the resignation “due to personal reasons” of Dr Eduardo P. Banzon as CEO and president of Philhealth.

“PhilHealth recognizes the contributions of Dr Banzon in his 14 months of service for the advancement of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or universal health care in the country,” DOH said in a statement released Monday.

It said that Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, chairman of the PhilHealth Board of Directors, will be the OIC of Philhealth.

Banzon was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in October 2011.

Universal health care coverage is one of President Aquino’s key campaign promises and financing via Philhealth is key to achieving this.

As CEO of Philhealth, Banzon pushed for an increase in premiums, noting that, given increases in health-related spending, it was necessary to achieve the goal of decreasing out-of-pocket expenses for health.

The implementation of the proposed premium increase has been postponed for several times now. Initially scheduled to take effect by July 2012, implementation was postponed to October of the same year. Come October, implementation got further postponed to January 2013

On January 1, however, Philhealth announced further deferment of the premium increase, this time to the end of 2013.

Customer service improvements

During his stint as Philhealth CEO, Banzon also grappled with the how to push up benefit utilization rates by Philhealth membersTo address the problem, Banzon focused on making the service accessible to the public. 

In August 2012, Philhealth started issuing machine-readable cards or PhilHealth PVC cards.

The new cards are supposed to make it easier for health facilities to access the data of patients who are either Philhealth members or beneficiaries and report benefit claims. In the process, it is expected to help improve members’ access to health services.

Apart from the cards, Banzon also spearheaded customer service improvement programs such as assistance desks in malls and PhilHealth Moves, a full service desk on wheels which was supposed to target designated barangays and big events and serve as a one-stop-shop on site.

Banzon had once served as Philhealth Vice President for Health Finance Policy Services. He was a Senior Health Specialist of the World Bank, providing assistance to the Philippines and other East Asian countries on health financing, health service delivery, and health regulations.

A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, Banzon finished his MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing at the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was a Clinical Associate Professor in the UP College of Medicine and a faculty member of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. – Rappler.com

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