MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) on Monday, March 21, urged the government to allot budget for the medical insurance of students and teachers as they gradually return to their campuses for face-to-face classes.
NUSP chairperson Jandeil Roperos made this call as the government required all students returning face-to-face classes to have medical insurance.
“Kaya ang panawagan namin sa gobyerno ay mag-allot ng budget for medical health ng mga students and education stakeholders,” said Roperos. (That’s why our appeal to the government is to allot budget for medical health of students and other stakeholders.)
While students can avail of the health insurance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Roperos said that this was not sufficient as the state health insurer only covers a certain amount based on the severity of cases. (READ: PhilHealth announces rate package for coronavirus hospitalization)
“[Sa] PhilHealth kapag ang estudyante ay hindi na dependent sa kanilang magulang, sila na ‘yung maghahanap ng insurance at magbabayad sa PhilHealth. At kahit na may PhilHealth ka, hindi naman fully nasasagot ang mga gastusin kung ikaw ay nagpositive o nagkasakit,” said Roperos.
(Under PhilHealth, if a student is not qualified as dependent of their parent, they need to look for their own insurance and pay their contributions to PhilHealth. And even though they have PhilHealth, not all expenses related to COVID-19 are covered.)
The government has allowed colleges and universities under Alert Level 1 to hold face-to-face classes. However, only fully vaccinated students with health insurance can go back to their campuses.
The government said that students aged 21 and above may enroll in PhilHealth as indigent members, on grounds that the student has no visible means of income. Those below 21 may be classified as dependents of their parents or legal guardians.
“Kung hindi man required ang insurance, nagbibigay sila ng mga waivers sa mga estudyante na mag face-to-face na hindi nila sagot if ever mag-positive ang student sa duration ng face-to-face classes. So very opposing siya sa panawagan natin to safely open more schools now,” Roperos said.
(If a school won’t require medical insurance, they will give waivers to students joining face-to-face classes, stating that if ever a student gets COVID-19 they will not shoulder expenses. So, it’s opposed from our call to safely reopen schools.)
Under the Universal Health Care Law, all Filipinos are member of PhilHealth. They just need to register at any PhilHealth office.
Currently, Metro Manila and some 47 other areas are under Alert Level 1 until March 31.
Under Alert Level 1 or what the government considers as the “new normal,” establishments and public transportation are allowed to be fully operational. There are also no restrictions on the movement of people from different age groups, though this is subject to specific rules that vary among local government units.
After reeling from the surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continue to decline, with infections staying below 1,000 for over two weeks now. – Rappler.com