Monday, May 16, 2011

An open letter to Philhealth

Dear Philhealth,

Firstly, I'd like to think that persons living with HIV (PLHIVs) like me truly appreciate your gesture of taking care of/subsidizing the cost of antiretrovirals (ARVs) that many of us take and of certain laboratory tests that we need to undergo relative to our medical condition, especially with the approaching termination of the Global Fund's financing of the same by December 2012. It would be of great help to us - financially, that is.

But I have some gripes with the way your office is treating us PLHIVs, who do not deserve to be burdened with certain requirements and procedures that would only stress us out a lot. Do know that stress and/or depression is not good for those like me.

You have required PLHIVS still not taking ARVs to pay for the CD4 count, for example. Whether or not, they have Philhealth. A CD4 count in a certain treatment hub costs P3,000! That amount is too heavy for someone who is earning just the minimum wage or barely reaching minimum wage. What if a PLHIV cannot afford to take that count or some other lab tests because of lack of funds? He or she will never know the current status of his or her immuno-compromised health unless he or she undergoes the regular physical exams and lab tests.

Another predicament that PLHIVs face is having to ask our human resources (HR), administrative heads, or managers to sign the CF1 form, which we need to submit every time we get ARVs or every three months. The most common questions asked of us who ask our employers or company officers to sign the documents are: what is this for and why do we need to sign it? We are a loss on how to explain it. We cannot tell them we have HIV, right? Or that we need this document for our HIV treatment.

I have learned that doctors of designated treatment hubs and representatives of PLHIV groups have met Philhealth officers and asked if your office can accept payslips instead of the CF1 because of the difficulty faced by PLHIVs in having it signed. The payslips would show that the employed is a regular contributor to Philhealth anyway. But your office have reportedly turned down the suggestion saying that payslips can be faked. But your office can check with where the PLHIV is working to determine if he or she is indeed employed there as suggested also but your office said that it would entail lots of work and would be an additional burden on your part.

We have the option though to tell our company that we will personally take over paying our contributions directly to Philhealth in order to evade questions on the signing of the CF1 forms but that would be tedious for PLHIVs, knowing how slow procedures are when it comes to government office transactions.


So we PLHIVs have no choice but to submit the CF1 form, along with the MDR every three months, and face the scrutiny of our employers, even the risk of not having our CF1 forms signed unless we can adequately explain why and for what reason is it being submitted for their signature.

I wish your office can make it things easier for us PLHIVs. We already have this medical condition. It was a lapse in our personal judgment by not adhering to safe sex that is why we contracted HIV, but do we have to be "punished" like this by your office?

I hope more consideration would be given to us because the bottom-line here is: lives are at stake.

Yours truly,
R10-AAC of RITM/"Aries"


  1. I have mixed emotions regarding the OHAT package that we get from PhilHealth. OHAT only covers those who are under ARV treatment. In the future (i believe next year), OHAT will also cover those who's not under ARV. Although, starting next year, everyone will have to shoulder some cash for ARV.

    When I talked to Ate Let last December, she said that the PhilHealth will shoulder Php 30k/month per poz. That will cover the tests and some form of subsidy for the ARV meds.

    This amount is a fair amount. It is actually higher than what is being given to those who avails PhilHealth packages for in-patient procedures.

    In a way, it is a good start that we are being independent from private funding. We can ask for more but can the government help us? I don't think so.

    As for those who earns minimum wage or lower than that, those unemployed, the senior citizens, the only way we can help them is to reach out from NGOs. While NGOs fight for stigma, I think they should also help those who cannot afford the tests, etc. THEY can get sponsors from private organizations. STIGMA will always be there. Don't get me wrong, as much as I want the social stigma to disappear, we can only do much.

    Lastly, as for the CF1 concern. I have 2 suggestions: 1 is to just submit the CF1 once a year. Then every quarter, can we just submit a Certificate of Employment from the company (signed, with a stamp or a dry seal). OR submit an MDR. The MDR will show both contributions from the company and from the individual. OR... we can request for the company contribution from PhilHealth than have the CF1 form signed.

    Just my looooooong two cents on the issue :)

  2. Wow. Now this is an eye-opener for me. We have to shell some cash for ARVs already next year? Even if earn a modest amount as salary, the financial burden would still hurt us. We also have other daily expenses to take care of - not just ARVs!

    As for NGOs catering to PLHIVs seeking private financial assistance for those who cannot afford the lab tests and ARVs, that's a good idea.

    As for CF1, forget it Trese, Philhealth wants us to submit it every quarter - no ifs, no buts, aside from the MDR.

  3. Hi, I'm going to re-post this on my blog. We need to let Philhealth know that some of our concerns.

    Ako nga my problem is letting my HR Director, who knows my condition, to sign the CF1.

  4. sure go head infinitystrip. philhealth should know our concerns. the bottom-line really is lives are at stake.


  5. ano magandang excuse kapag magpapasign ng CF1 sa HR?

  6. hello anonymous!

    i tell our general manager that "i am having my dependents included in my philhealth coverage" so i need to have the cf1 signed. so far, that same "reason" is accepted every time i submit it for his signature every quarter and i also told him in advance already that the document needs to be renewed every three months.