Many Filipinos feel good about their health and well-being, despite the fact that they are unable to get regular medical check-ups and, worse, they are generally not as well prepared to pay for their medical needs.
In a nationwide study, called the PhilCare Wellness Index, researchers said that respondents rated themselves to be in overall good health. They also believe that they enjoy the ideal weight, despite their bodies not being in tip-top shape.
This sentiment on their physical health is mirrored by their psychological disposition, as respondents, on average, agreed that they lead a meaningful life, they are well-respected, and that they are satisfied with their lives.
Lead researcher and University of the Philippines Professor, Dr. Fernando Paragas, said that the PhilCare Wellness Index is composed of several wellness statements. Respondents from key parts of the country were asked to rate themselves from a seven-point scale, with the score of one as “very good” to a score of seven, which is “very bad.”
Respondents rated themselves as “somewhat good” in terms of their overall health. They also said they felt good about their psychological wellness. Meanwhile, respondents also rated themselves as “somewhat good” when it came to their physical, lifestyle, nutritional, financial, and medical well-being.
Despite this sense of optimism about their health, respondents admit that they lack the confidence to address medical needs. About 40 percent are unsure whether they can pay for their medical bills, while 35 percent are also unsure they could afford regular medical checkups.
The inability to finance their medical needs was also evident in the findings of the survey, which said that more than 60 percent of respondents have incurred up to P30,000 in medical bills.
About 37 percent managed to pay their bills using their savings, while 25 percent ended up seeking help from friends and relatives to pay what they owe. Only 15 percent were able to settle their bills using health insurance.
Among the respondents that were hospitalized in the previous year, the survey also revealed that only 63 percent of them managed to use their PhilHealth benefits to ease the burden of their medical expenses.
PhilCare President and CEO Jaeger L. Tanco said the results of the findings are very useful in helping the health sector come up with programs that address needs of Filipinos, helping them attain a better state of wellness.
“There is more to health than just the absence of disease. Our vision is to help promote a brand of health that is holistic and inclusive. The PhilCare Wellness Index gives us a clear picture on where we are when it comes to wellness and, more importantly, it charts a clear path on how far we can go to promote health among Filipinos,” he said.
The 2019 PhilCare Wellness Index is the second study of its kind in the Philippines. PhilCare also commissioned the first study in 2014 and the survey allowed the HMO company to develop affordable and responsive medical insurance plans that provided coverage to thousands of uninsured Filipinos.
Dr. Paragas said this year’s PhilCare Wellness Index involved not just a survey, but also a series of focus group discussions, where participants from different sectors delved on problems and solutions relevant to the goal of inclusive health care.
As for the survey, Dr. Paragas said a total of 1,350 respondents were interviewed face to face. They were selected from following a multi-stage cluster and regional sampling from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region.
The PhilCare Wellness Index was designed in 2014 and 2019 to measure the “the state of being happy, healthy, or successful” among Filipinos.
The study was inspired by wellness and health indices in New Zealand (The Sovereign Wellbeing Index of 2015), Canada (The Canadian Index of Wellbeing), and United States (The State of American Well-Being of 2017).
Apart from the self-evaluations of physical, nutritional, medical, psychological, lifestyle, and financial well-being, the study also measured stress, sex, vices, and health practices of Filipinos.
Former Health Secretary and Chairman of the 2019 PhilCare Wellness Index, Dr. Enrique T. Ona, said PhilCare intends to share more findings of the study to the public to raise awareness of the well-being of Filipinos.
“PhilCare will also forge partnerships with the government sector so they could use this proprietary study of PhilCare to craft relevant policies. We have findings in this study that may be very useful in the goal of the government to attain truly universal health care,” Dr. Ona said.