The country’s health insurance company, Philhealth, is set to increase its contribution to the Universal Healthcare Law in June.
The company said it will increase its contribution rate to 4% from 3% for members earning up to P80,000 a month. The increase will be implemented following the company’s upgrade to its internet system.
Philhealth Contribution Hike Set to Take Effect in June
In order to comply with the law, insurance companies must raise their premium rates on an annual basis until they reach a maximum of 5 per cent, GMA News reported.
The rise in the company’s contribution rate was scheduled to take effect last year, but it was put on hold owing to the advent of the pandemic.
Migrants Criticize Impending 4% Premium PhilHealth Contribution Hike
Migrant worker organizations have once again slammed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) after it announced that it will begin collecting the required four per cent annual payment from members next month.
According to an official statement made on Wednesday, the Philhealth contribution hike is being implemented in accordance with Malacanang’s directions, despite lawmakers’ inability to pass legislation barring the necessary increases.
Prior to the outbreak, President Rodrigo R. Duterte banned the collection of expedited premium contributions from members due to boisterous demonstrations by Filipino migrant workers around the world.
The collection of increased PhilHealth payments is called for in the 2018 Universal Health Care Act, which requires that premium rates gradually grow from 2.75 per cent in 2019 to 5 per cent in both 2024 and 2025, with a salary ceiling of Php 80,000.
This year, Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong receiving the minimum pay of $4,630 (the equivalent of Php30,000) would face a yearly premium of Php14,400. This is a significant six-fold increase from the flat amount of Php2,400 received before the new law’s passage.
What makes the burden considerably heavier for migrant workers is that, because they do not collect directly from their employers, PhilHealth, like the Social Security System, defines them as “self-paying,” which means they bear the financial responsibility of both the employer and the employee.
The 4% PhilHealth contribution increase will be collected beginning in June. Those who paid at the old 3 per cent rate from January to May will be able to pay the difference without interest 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 promptly criticized the announcement, calling the PhilHealth premium hike government extortion.
The group advocated not just for the repeal of the higher charges, but also for mandatory membership for Filipino migrant workers, who they claim are already covered by medical insurance that their employers are required by Hong Kong law to take out in their name.
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.”
In 2020, Philippine lawmakers launched an investigation into potential PhilHealth corruption after whistleblowers claimed that company officials stole up to Php15 billion in funds.
The claim infuriated Filipinos at the time, as the country was having the worst Covid-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia.
However, PhilHealth executives rejected the accusation, and the situation died down after a few 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.
The Fund is in charge of administering the national savings program and providing affordable house financing to Filipinos, whereas the OEC serves as an exit card for OFWs about to depart the country or return to their job sites overseas.
Because the OEC is not currently linked to either PhilHealth or the Pag-IBIG Fund, Filipino migrant workers are not required to pay for membership in either agency.