Philhealth, the country’s health insurance agency, plans to increase its contribution in accordance with the Universal Healthcare Law in June.
The firm stated it will increase the contribution rate for members earning up to P80,000 per month from 3 per cent to 4%. The increase will take effect once the corporation’s internet system has been upgraded.
OFWs Gear Up for Philhealth Contribution Increase in June
According to GMA News, in order to comply with the law, insurance firms must raise their premium rates on an annual basis until they reach a maximum of 5%.
The increase in the company’s contribution rate was supposed to take effect last year, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
HK Migrant Groups Criticize PhilHealth’s Plan to Start Charging a 4% Premium
Migrant worker organizations have slammed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) once more after it announced that it will begin collecting the necessary four per cent yearly contribution from members next month.
Despite lawmakers’ inability to adopt legislation barring the required increases, PhilHealth said in a statement issued Wednesday that it will begin collecting the increased rate under Malacanang’s direction.
Prior to the pandemic, President Rodrigo R. Duterte prohibited the collection of expedited premium contributions from members due to raucous protests by Filipino migrant workers all over the world.
According to the 2018 Universal Health Care Act, premium rates will gradually increase from 2.75 per cent in 2019 to 5 per cent in both 2024 and 2025, with a salary ceiling of Php 80,000.
Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong earning the minimum wage of $4,630 (the equivalent of Php30,000) would face a yearly premium of Php 14,400 this year. This is a big rise over the flat amount of Php 2,400 earned before the passage of the new law.
Because migrant employees do not get benefits directly from their employers, PhilHealth, like the Social Security System, classifies them as “self-paying,” which means they bear the financial responsibility of both the employer and the employee.
The 4% payment rate will be collected beginning in June, according to PhilHealth. Those who paid at the old 3% rate from January to May will be allowed to make up the shortfall without penalty until December of this year.
“PhilHealth assures all members that legislated contribution schedule will continue to provide all Filipinos with adequate financial protection against hospitalization costs,” the state health insurer said.
Bayan Muna Partylist Hong Kong immediately condemned the announcement, calling the PhilHealth premium hike extortion by the government.
The group lobbied not just for the removal of the higher fees, but also for mandatory membership for Filipino migrant workers, who they argue are already covered by medical insurance that their employers are obligated by Hong Kong legislation to get in their names.
Dolores Balladares Pelaez, chair of Bayan Muna Hong Kong, stated that money given to PhilHealth would be better spent if it was delivered to their family in the Philippines rather than a government agency “with unresolved corruption allegations.”
After whistleblowers reported that business officials misappropriated up to Php15 billion in revenues, Philippine lawmakers initiated an investigation into potential PhilHealth corruption in 2020.
At the time, Filipinos were outraged because their country was experiencing the worst Covid-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia.
However, PhilHealth executives denied the accusation, and the problem was resolved through a series of highly publicized congressional hearings.
Pelaez stated that whoever wins the upcoming presidential election will be forced to deal with the PhilHealth issue immediately.
Migrant worker organizations were also outraged when the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration stated that OFWs would have to pay for membership in the Pag-IBIG Fund before being awarded overseas employment certificates (OEC).
The Fund is in charge of running the national savings program and providing affordable housing financing to Filipinos, whereas the OEC serves as an exit card for OFWs preparing to leave the country or return to their job sites abroad.
Filipino migrant workers are not required to pay for membership in either PhilHealth or the Pag-IBIG Fund because the OEC is not currently tied to either.