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Healthcare and Medical Law in the Philippines: Rights and Responsibilities for Patients and Providers

Healthcare and medical law are crucial components of the healthcare system in the Philippines. These laws are in place to regulate and ensure the rights and responsibilities of patients and healthcare providers. In this blog, we will provide a detailed overview of the rights and responsibilities of both patients and healthcare providers in the Philippines, emphasizing the importance of understanding and adhering to these rights and responsibilities in the delivery of safe and quality healthcare services.

Rights of Patients

As patients, individuals have certain fundamental rights when seeking healthcare services in the Philippines.

Right to Access Healthcare

Every individual has the right to access healthcare services without discrimination. This means that healthcare services should be provided in a timely and appropriate manner, regardless of the patient's ability to pay. No one should be denied healthcare services based on their socioeconomic status, age, gender, religion, or any other characteristic. This right is essential in ensuring that all individuals have equal opportunities to receive the healthcare they need to maintain their health and well-being.

Right to Informed Consent

Patients have the right to be fully informed about their medical condition, treatment options, risks, benefits, and alternatives before undergoing any medical intervention or treatment. Informed consent is a crucial ethical and legal principle that respects the autonomy and decision-making capacity of patients. Healthcare providers must provide patients with accurate and complete information in a language and manner that they can understand, and patients have the right to ask questions, seek clarifications, and make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

Patients have the right to privacy and confidentiality of their medical information. Healthcare providers are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of patient information and protect their privacy. This means that patients' medical information should only be disclosed to authorized individuals for the purpose of providing healthcare, and patients have the right to control the use and disclosure of their personal health information. Respecting patients' privacy and confidentiality is crucial in building trust and maintaining the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship.

Right to Quality Care

Patients have the right to receive quality healthcare services that meet accepted medical standards. This includes appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care based on evidence-based guidelines and best practices. Patients also have the right to be treated with dignity and respect by healthcare providers, regardless of their background or condition. Quality care is essential in ensuring that patients receive safe and effective healthcare services that are tailored to their needs and preferences.

Right to Refuse Treatment

Patients have the right to refuse medical treatment, except in cases where it is allowed by law. This means that patients have the autonomy to make decisions about their healthcare and can refuse treatments that they do not want or that conflict with their personal beliefs or values. However, there are exceptions to this right, such as in cases where the patient's condition is life-threatening or where the refusal of treatment would result in harm to others. It is important for healthcare providers to respect and consider the patient's decision while also providing appropriate information and guidance to help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Responsibilities of Patients

Along with their rights, patients also have certain responsibilities in the healthcare process.

Provide Accurate Information

Patients have the responsibility to provide accurate and complete information to healthcare providers. This includes their medical history, symptoms, allergies, medications, and other relevant details that can help healthcare providers make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate care. Providing accurate information is crucial in ensuring that patients receive safe and effective healthcare services that are tailored to their individual needs.

Comply with Treatment Plans

Patients have the responsibility to comply with the treatment plans prescribed by their healthcare providers. This includes taking medications as instructed, following lifestyle changes, and attending follow-up appointments as scheduled. Compliance with treatment plans is essential in achieving the desired outcomes of healthcare interventions and ensuring the success of the treatment. Patients should also inform their healthcare providers of any difficulties or concerns they may have in complying with the treatment plan, so that appropriate adjustments can be made.

Respect Healthcare Providers

Patients have the responsibility to respect and cooperate with their healthcare providers. This includes treating healthcare providers with courtesy, following their instructions, and adhering to the policies and rules of the healthcare facility. Patients should also communicate openly and honestly with their healthcare providers, provide feedback on their care, and raise any concerns or complaints in a respectful manner. Building a collaborative and respectful relationship with healthcare providers promotes effective communication and enhances the quality of care.

Be Active Participants in their Healthcare

Patients have the responsibility to be active participants in their healthcare. This includes asking questions, seeking clarifications, and engaging in shared decision-making with their healthcare providers. Patients should also educate themselves about their medical condition, treatment options, and self-care measures to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Being actively engaged in their healthcare empowers patients to make informed choices and take ownership of their health.

Rights and Responsibilities of Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers, on the other hand, also have certain rights and responsibilities in the delivery of healthcare services.

Rights of Healthcare Providers:

  1. Right to Provide Care According to Professional Standards

Healthcare providers have the right to provide care according to accepted medical standards and best practices. This means that they have the autonomy to make clinical judgments, prescribe appropriate treatments, and provide care that is in the best interest of their patients, without undue interference from external sources. Healthcare providers should be able to exercise their professional judgment based on their expertise and knowledge to ensure that patients receive safe and effective care.

  1. Right to Respect and Professional Courtesy

Healthcare providers have the right to be treated with respect and professional courtesy by patients, their families, and colleagues. This includes being treated in a manner that is free from discrimination, harassment, and violence. Healthcare providers should also be able to work in a safe and conducive environment that allows them to provide care to the best of their abilities.

Responsibilities of Healthcare Providers:

  1. Provide Safe and Quality Care

Healthcare providers have the responsibility to provide safe and quality care to their patients. This includes adhering to professional standards, following evidence-based guidelines, and practicing within the scope of their expertise and competence. Healthcare providers should also continuously update their knowledge and skills to ensure that they are providing the best possible care to their patients.

  1. Respect Patients' Rights and Autonomy

Healthcare providers have the responsibility to respect and uphold the rights and autonomy of their patients. This includes obtaining informed consent, protecting patients' privacy and confidentiality, and respecting their choices and decisions about their healthcare. Healthcare providers should also communicate with patients in a compassionate and respectful manner, and involve them in the decision-making process to the extent possible.

  1. Communicate Effectively with Patients

Healthcare providers have the responsibility to communicate effectively with their patients. This includes providing information in a language and manner that patients can understand, listening to patients' concerns, and addressing their questions and doubts. Healthcare providers should also provide clear instructions about treatment plans, medications, and self-care measures, and encourage patients to ask questions and seek clarification.

  1. Collaborate with Colleagues and Healthcare Team

Healthcare providers have the responsibility to collaborate with their colleagues and the healthcare team to ensure coordinated and comprehensive care for patients. This includes effective communication, sharing of relevant information, and working together to develop and implement appropriate treatment plans. Healthcare providers should also respect and value the contributions of other healthcare professionals and work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary manner to optimize patient care.


In conclusion, understanding the rights and responsibilities of both patients and healthcare providers is crucial in the delivery of safe and quality healthcare services in the best interest of patients. Patients have the right to receive respectful, compassionate, and culturally competent care, and they also have the responsibility to actively participate in their healthcare and follow the agreed-upon treatment plan. Healthcare providers have the right to provide care according to professional standards, and they have the responsibility to provide safe, quality care, respect patients' rights and autonomy, communicate effectively, and collaborate with their colleagues.

By upholding these rights and responsibilities, patients and healthcare providers can work together in a collaborative partnership to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients. Effective communication, mutual respect, and shared decision-making are essential components of this partnership. It is important for patients and healthcare providers to actively engage in open and honest communication, listen to each other's perspectives, and work together to develop and implement appropriate treatment plans.

In case of any concerns or grievances, patients and healthcare providers should follow appropriate channels for resolution, such as discussing with the healthcare facility or seeking guidance from relevant regulatory bodies or advocacy organizations. By working together in a collaborative and respectful manner, patients and healthcare providers can foster a positive healthcare environment that promotes patient safety, quality care, and improved health outcomes.

What Is Expanded Senior Citizens Act

Aside from Republic Act 10645, which provides mandatory PhilHealth coverage for all senior citizens, Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 has also upgraded and expanded services for elderly. The law's objective is to provide a more comprehensive policy that will be beneficial to senior citizens especially in terms of improving their total well-being. The privileges that the senior citizens are currently entitled to are as follows:

“(a) the grant of twenty percent (20%) discount and exemption from the value -added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the following goods and services from all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of the senior citizen

“(1) on the purchase of medicines, including the purchase of influenza and pnuemococcal vaccines, and such other essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment to be determined by the Department of Health (DOH).

“The DOH shall establish guidelines and mechanism of compulsory rebates in the sharing of burden of discounts among retailers, manufacturers and distributors, taking into consideration their respective margins;

“(2) on the professional fees of attending physician/s in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services;

“(3) on the professional fees of licensed professional health providing home health care services as endorsed by private hospitals or employed through home health care employment agencies;

“(4) on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and home health care services, in accordance with the rules and regulations to be issued by the DOH, in coordination with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth);

“(5) in actual fare for land transportation travel in public utility buses (PUBs), public utility jeepneys (PUJs), taxis, Asian utility vehicles (AUVs), shuttle services and public railways, including Light Rail Transit (LRT), Mass Rail Transit (MRT), and Philippine National Railways (PNR);

“(6) in actual transportation fare for domestic air transport services and sea shipping vessels and the like, based on the actual fare and advanced booking;

“(7) on the utilization of services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers;

“(8) on admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, leisure and amusement; and

“(9) on funeral and burial services for the death of senior citizens;

“(b) exemption from the payment of individual income taxes of senior citizens who are considered to be minimum wage earners in accordance with Republic Act No. 9504;

“(c) the grant of a minimum of five percent (5%) discount relative to the monthly utilization of water and electricity supplied by the public utilities: Provided, That the individual meters for the foregoing utilities are registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein: Provided, further, That the monthly consumption does not exceed one hundred kilowatt hours (100 kWh) of electricity and thirty cubic meters (30 m3) of water: Provided, furthermore, That the privilege is granted per household regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein;

“(d) exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs;

“(e) free medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees such as, but not limited to, x-rays, computerized tomography scans and blood tests, in all government facilities, subject to the guidelines to be issued by the DOH in coordination with the PhilHealth;

“(f) the DOH shall administer free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizen patients;

“(g) educational assistance to senior citizens to pursue pot secondary, tertiary, post tertiary, vocational and technical education, as well as short-term courses for retooling in both public and private schools through provision of scholarships, grants, financial aids, subsides and other incentives to qualified senior citizens, including support for books, learning materials, and uniform allowances, to the extent feasible: Provided, That senior citizens shall meet minimum admission requirements;

“(h) to the extent practicable and feasible, the continuance of the same benefits and privileges given by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS) and the PAG-IBIG, as the case may be, as are enjoyed by those in actual service;

“(i) retirement benefits of retirees from both the government and the private sector shall be regularly reviewed to ensure their continuing responsiveness and sustainability, and to the extent practicable and feasible, shall be upgraded to be at par with the current scale enjoyed by those in actual service;

“(j) to the extent possible, the government may grant special discounts in special programs for senior citizens on purchase of basic commodities, subject to the guidelines to be issued for the purpose by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA);

“(k) provision of express lanes for senior citizens in all commercial and government establishments; in the absence thereof, priority shall be given to them; and

“(l) death benefit assistance of a minimum of Two thousand pesos (Php2, 000.00) shall be given to the nearest surviving relative of a deceased senior citizen which amount shall be subject to adjustments due to inflation in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by the DSWD.

“In the availment of the privileges mentioned above, the senior citizen, or his/her duly authorized representative, may submit as proof of his/her entitled thereto any of the following:

“(1) an identification card issued by the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) of the place where the senior citizen resides: Provided, That the identification card issued by the particular OSCA shall be honored nationwide;

“(2) the passport of the senior citizen concerned; and

“(3) other documents that establish that the senior citizen is a citizen of the Republic and is at least sixty (60) years of age as further provided in the implementing rules and regulations.

“In the purchase of goods and services which are on promotional discount, the senior citizen can avail of the promotional discount or the discount provided herein, whichever is higher.

“The establishment may claim the discounts granted under subsections (a) and (c) of this section as tax deduction based on the cost of the goods sold or services rendered: Provided, That the cost of the discount shall be allowed as deduction from gross income for the same taxable year that the discount is granted: Provided, further, That the total amount of the claimed tax deduction net of VAT, if applicable, shall be included in their gross sales receipts for tax purposes and shall be subject to proper documentation and to the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code (NICR), as amended.”

What Is Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage Of Senior Citizens?

Senior citizens can now gain greater peace of mind because with the amended law, they are going to be covered by PhilHealth’s national health insurance program effective November 25, 2014. Senior citizens sixty years old and above can take advantage of this coverage. To qualify for this coverage, they need to provide proof of Filipino citizenship and they must be a resident of the country for at least six months. The senior citizen PhilHealth coverage also entitles members to declare dependents. 

What can senior citizens expect from PhilHealth coverage? 

Due to the privilege of senior citizen members to declare dependents, their spouses can also be enrolled as members as well. Members need to keep in mind that Senior Citizen category should not be mistaken or confused for Lifetime Member Category. With Lifetime Member Category, members are not required to pay contributions to become eligible for the benefits. On the other hand, Senior Citizen members need to have premium contributions and these are taken from the Sin Tax Law proceeds. 

Enrolment of senior citizen members is usually done in bulk. The list will be obtained from cities and municipalities. Each office will be required to follow the standard text file as the information will be uploaded to the database. Although individual enrolment is allowed, this is highly discouraged. 

For bulk enrolment, an electronic list of senior citizens must be obtained from the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs or OSCA. Qualified applicants will be automatically enrolled. For individual enrolment, applicants are advised to go directly to any PhilHealth office. Some of the privileges that senior citizen members can enjoy include free dental and medical services, access to all government medical facilities, which are still subject to guidelines and many more. These are going to be issued by the Department of Health or DOH. With this amendment, senior citizens will heave a sigh of relief knowing that the country’s health insurance has got them covered. 

For individual membership, applicants are required to submit a duly accomplished PhilHealth Registration Form or also referred to as PMRF and proof that the member is indeed a senior citizen. Once the applicant has complied with the membership document requirements, a PhilHealth ID card and MDR will be issued. These will serve as proof of enrolment. 

Senior citizen members will have access to inpatient hospital care, Z-benefits, ambulatory or day services and many other packages. Senior citizens just need to present their card, proof of identification and MDR if they wish to avail of these benefits.