I am usually calm. The profession necessitates it, otherwise I would freak out everytime I see a tumor getting bigger and nastier on my patient’s CT scan. My own hypochondria is, of course, another story.
One thing that’s sure to break down any veneer of calmness, however, is the need to transact with a government agency. In particular: DFA, BIR, PRC, LTO, PMA, PDEA, Philhealth. My 3-year Philhealth accreditation will be expiring in a few months, and I need to renew it as a medical provider (so that my patients can avail of Philhealth benefits) and as a citizen (so that I can claim benefits when I myself get sick). This has been causing me such anxiety in the year leading to it, because I hate gathering requirements.
Surprisingly I was easily able to get the required Certificates of Good Standing from the medical societies, and the only additional requirement this year is a copy of my annual ITR from 2020. And, lest I forget, the bigger fees I have to pay. I think it was in 2020 when the premium became tiered depending on declared taxes, instead of fixed. Compared to my 2019 renewal fees, my 2022 due payment is 7x that price! I can compound the anxiety with irritation and righteous indignation by looking back at all the problems Philhealth has faced in the recent years: exorbitant Christmas parties, corruptions, unpaid reimbursements to private hospitals, and other problems involving lots of money. My friend HTGOF advised that I should just pay for one year of renewal, since Philhealth is currently in a precarious position. Recently there were news of many private hospitals (FEU, hospitals in Iloilo among others) cutting ties with Philhealthbecause of the billions in unpaid claims.
I called ahead on my way to the Calamba office, and was informed that I needed to get an appointment. “But… but….” I mumbled in panic, thinking of the clinics I had cancelled for it. “But I wasn’t informed of the need for it when I asked fo requirements!” I was finally able to say through the stammers. I could try talking to the guard, I was informed. The nice guard allowed me to go inside. In fairness, everyone was extremely nice and helpful. I hadn’t seen such across-the-board niceness in a government office. Still, the pervasive feeling was anxiety, as I stuttered, laughed nervously, dropped sheaves of papers on the floor, and said all the wrong things.
Looking back, I think this anxiety in dealing with government offices started when I applied for the physician licensure exam in PRC in 2006. There were no online applications back then, so through the heavy rains I rode a 2-hour bus all the way to PRC in Manila. I filled up all the forms, fell in line and all that. Finally I submitted the requirements to the counter, and the lady winced as she saw my birth certificate. I had submitted my original gula-gulanit birth certificate parchment. I was to submit a copy from the NSO, I was told, which requires weeks to process. I haven’t even heard of “NSO” until that day. I went home in tears, thinking that my dreams of becoming a doctor would be dashed by my failure to submit requirements properly. I was overacting, I was able to complete and submit the requirements in a week.
Having fulfilled my Philhealth obligations I decided to have lunch and walk around Nuvali. All the restaurants were full, except for this Tex-Mex restaurant called Antro. I had a cilantro chicken meal, the quality of whichI couldn’t properly judge, as I hungrily stuffed the whole thing in my mouth in sheer hunger. I forgot what the meal was called, but considering the charred skin I have named it Death By Terminal Disease.