Children below 6 years old get 50 percent discount on medical services

Children below six years old may soon get a 50 percent discount on medical services if a bill addressing the medical needs of underprivileged Filipino families is enacted into law.

Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Javier Colmenares and Teddy CasiƱo authored House Bill 4125 to address the rising mortality rate of infants and children in the country.

"Poor families can no longer afford to pay high hospital or doctors’ fees because they have no money to spend for the medication of their children," Colmenares said.

"Many children succumb to illness because they cannot afford medication and hospital expenses, let alone basic provisions such as food," Colmenares added.

Colmenares said government hospitals can contribute to lowering infant and child mortality rate if the poor and indigent families are accorded discounts on hospitalization and medical services.

To be known as the "Children's Medical Services Discount Act of 2011," the bill grants discounts on medical services provided by hospitals and licensed physicians on the treatment of diseases, diseased-condition, injuries, deformities or abnormal physical conditions.

Covered by the measure are parents who have an annual net income not exceeding P100,000.

Citing the 2008 report of the United Nation's Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Colmenares said an average of 32 Filipino children die before they reach the age of five.

The 2008 report of the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) also showed that about 34 Filipino children die before reaching the age of five years, Colmenares said.

Likewise, Colmenares said the Department of Health (DOH) reported that infectious diseases still account for more than half of the 10 leading causes of child mortality across three different age groups, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 9 years, and 10 to 14 years old.

"Most of the diseases that afflict young Filipinos are all preventable and treatable in nature, if only they can access health care services," Colmenares said.

Colmenares said the government health budget has not increased significantly in many years. It is estimated that about 60 percent of Filipinos do not have access to health care at all.