The government literally spent an arm and a leg in 2021 to meet squarely the unrelenting menace presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of subsidizing the country’s health sector.
In just 11 months last year, the government extended subsidies totaling P76.966 billion to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or Philhealth, the single biggest subsidy to any government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC) during the period.
Although much of its operations have been scrutinized for alleged corrupt practices in the Senate, the beleaguered GOCC managed to deliver its mandated services just the same.
In data obtained from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), the national government poured money into the GOCC in a series of releases that started with an P8.951 billion disbursement in April.
Since the pandemic began, the Philippines reported COVID-19 cases reaching 3.66 million based on data reported by the World Health Organization.
More than 57,000 would die from the infections that has left the $361 billion economy significantly weaker and its government under pressure to contain rising prices and unemployment.
The subsidy in April would dramatically climb to P36.50 billion the following May and another subsidy boost of P30.60 billion in August to help manage the infections afflicting not just the working population and their dependents but the health workers as well.
But by November last year, the subsidy moderated to only P903 million as the countermeasures began to bite and the interagency task force managing the situation felt confident enough to loosen stringent mobility restrictions on the general population.
The government actually extended subsidies aggregating P163.41 billion to the various government entities financial and non-financial in the first 11 months of 2021 based on BTr data.
But none received as much economic concession as PhilHealth did to help promote the public health objective.