MANILA – The premium collected from members of state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) increased by .25 percent from last year’s premium rate and not 3 percent, Philhealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales on Monday said.
Morales clarified that the 3 percent is the total premium deducted from the members’ monthly salary and not the premium increase rate.
“From here on 0.5 percent but from 2019 to 2020, the increase is from 2.75 percent last year to 3 percent this year so .25 lamang ang in-increase (only is the increase) from last year, from 2020 to 2021, up to 2024, 0.5 percent increase per year, so ‘yun ang (that is) in the future,” Morales said in a Laging Handa public briefing.
The premium increase covers all direct Philhealth members, including those who are self-employed, and not just the OFWs as mandated under the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, he added.
Over the weekend, some overseas Filipino workers said the premium increase was “unfair” to them since they work abroad and do not directly benefit from their contributions.
In 2019, the Philhealth had collected over PHP1 billion premiums from OFWs and provided some PHP1.7 billion of healthcare benefits for their dependents living in the country, Morales said.
“So, lamang ang mga OFWs and their dependents kasi nandito sa Pilipinas ang mga dependents nila sa increase ng premium and benefits. As a matter of fact, 70 percent of benefit payments ay kine-claim ng dependents ng OFWs natin dito sa Pilipinas, 30 percent lang ‘yung nasa abroad ang kine-claim so kelangan ma-cover natin lahat ng OFWs dahil ito ang nakasaad sa (the OFWs and their dependents gain more with the premium increase and benefits since their dependents are here in the Philippines. As a matter of fact, 70 percent of the benefit payments are claimed by OFW dependents here in the Philippines and only 30 percent claim abroad so we need to cover all OFWs as this is stated in the) UHC law,” Morales said.
Earlier, the Philhealth announced a payment moratorium until May 30 considering the effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to all its members.
“I’m sure hindi pa naman ito matatapos ng May 30, we’re looking at a longer period of moratorium so in effect flexible payment period pero the reason why hindi natin ‘gaano iginiit itong moratorium sa payment kasi mayroon din namang mga members na gustong magbayad (this isn’t going to end by May 30, we’re looking at a longer moratorium period so in effect flexible payment period but the reason why we don’t promote this is because there are members who still want to pay),” Morales said.
Citing that a big part of the Philhealth fund was used for members affected by the Covid-19, Morales said continued premium payments from members who are “able and willing to pay” would help sustain the insurance company’s fund.
“But, right now we are also considering i-declare na optional ang payment ng premium (to declare premium payment as optional),” he added.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Philhealth to implement the voluntary paying of premium by OFWs, who continue to struggle with the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a post over Twitter, Health Secretary Francisco Duque called for the suspension of Section 10.2.C of the implementing rules and regulations of the UHC law “in light of Covid-19 and its economic impact on OFWs”.
This section cites the premium contribution from OFWs based on their monthly salary, with specific guidelines set by the Philhealth and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
“We will recommend this to Philhealth for their action. Meanwhile, we will reach out again to our stakeholders on this,” Duque said. (PNA)
By Ma. Teresa Montemayor May 4, 2020,
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