The Philippine government tried to cover the informal workers in the National Health Insurance Program of PhilHealth, which aims to provide financial and health risks pro-tections to all towards achieving the goal of Universal Health Care. However, despite of the promising legislation and progressive health reforms, it is still a big challenge for the government to cover the informal workers in the program. The study investigates the extent of the coverage of the NHIP among the workers in the informal economy and the factors that can adversely affect the demand of the informal workers to participate in program, which could impede the achievement of the UHC. Mixed methods and various sources of data were used in the study. The study found out that PhilHealth coverage (both estimates and actual cover-age) among the informal workers is still low and far-off from the universal target. Fol-lowing are some of the significant reasons identified that can adversely affect the de-mand and the effective coverage of the program among the informal workers: a) lack of awareness about the program; b) limited and different benefit packages offered across membership categories; c) negative perceptions of the informal workers on the targeting mechanism used by the government in selecting the households to be fully or partially subsidized in the program, and others. To improve the coverage of the NHIP, some of the recommendations of the study are: improve the targeting mechanism used for se-lecting the sponsored and indigent beneficiaries; focus more on the coverage of the non-indigent or non-sponsored members; strengthen the policies of the government that aim to provide the overall security (work, employment and other securities) for the in-formal workers; intensify information dissemination about the program and ensure the involvement of the informal workers’ associations, organizations and even the female member of the household (i.e wives) in the awareness campaigns; expand the benefit packages of the program; and treat informal workers as heterogeneous group with var-ying level of needs to come up with appropriate strategies to reach and cover them in the program. In this regard, universal health care coverage and protection for all Filipi-nos against healthcare financial risks, particularly among the informal workers, could be more possible and attainable.

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Siegmann, Karin Astrid
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Rivera, Camille F. (2015, December 11). Is Universal Health Care Possible? The Coverage of the Informal Workers in the National Health Insurance Program in the Philippines Philippines. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from