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What About Affordable Healthcare for Filipinos?

he Americans have finally done it! After more than a hundred years with presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama The final vote in the US House of Representative on Sunday, March 21pushing for Health reform, the United States now has a bill that all Americans can be proud of. And when Obama signs it into law, over a year of contentious debate and hysterics from those opposed it will hopefully come to an end. It is unfortunate that the Republicans who decided early on not to 'play' at the risk of appearing to give Obama even an inch, might now find themselves backpedaling if Americans eventually end up embracing this healthcare bill.

But enough about Americans—they belong after all, to the richest country in the world. Lets talk about Filipinos and the kind healthcare they have. In general, healthcare in the Philippines is available only for those who can afford it. It is never completely free, even in government-run hospitals. Indigent patients in charity wards still have to come up with the the supplies and the medications they need. Thus there is now the widespread practice, by those who are sick and broke, of approaching their members of congress to help pay their health bills. Legislators use part of their annual porkbarrel allotment to give hospitalization handouts making it appear as though those came from their own pockets.

While hardworking overseas Filipinos are providing healthcare to millions worldwide, in their home country, many of the indigent and sick are having to do without any care at all. What is even more loathsome and talked about only in whispers, is the fact that many cash-strapped families are electing to "pull the plug" on their sick relatives least a lingering illness completely deplete the family's finances. It is a heart-wrenching decision for sure, but in a third-world country, with no government 'safety net' for healthcare, some cash-strapped folks really have no choice.

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