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Growing Concerns Over Increased Healthcare Costs Amidst Rising Operational Expenses

Hospitals across the country are apprehensive about the possibility of healthcare becoming more expensive due to escalating labor costs and operational expenditures.

“The current scenario is witnessing a surge in expenses,” remarked Jose P. Santiago, the President of the Philippine Hospital Association, attributing the increase to the rising costs of utilities, including water and electricity.

Santiago emphasized the need for constant upgrades in machinery to keep pace with the evolving times. During a press conference for the Philippine Pharma and Healthcare Expo, held at SMX Convention Center from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, he shared insights with reporters, stating, “The old machines must be upgraded, and this can be a significant financial burden on our part.”

With a membership comprising approximately 2,000 private and government hospitals, Santiago highlighted an annual decrease in revenues of private hospitals by an average of 5 to 10 percent since the onset of the pandemic.

“If operational costs, such as employee salaries, continue to rise, hospitals may have to compensate by increasing rates for laboratory tests, ancillary procedures, and accommodations. Consequently, healthcare costs may experience an upward trend,” Santiago explained.

He reassured, however, that any potential rate hikes would be approached conservatively to avoid imposing undue financial strain on patients. Santiago expressed optimism about finding solutions to counter the escalating costs faced by hospitals.

Addressing the ongoing challenge of healthcare professionals opting to work abroad, Santiago noted a persistent shortage of nurses, numbering in the thousands. He cited regions like Europe, North America, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia as attractive destinations for Filipino nurses due to significantly higher salaries.

“In Europe, the offered monthly salary is around P90,000 to P100,000, far surpassing the P30,000 to P35,000 range in the Philippines. Additionally, nurses abroad enjoy supplementary benefits, including free education, lodging, and monetary incentives for the initial six months or a year of work,” Santiago pointed out.

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