Mga OFW, may apela kaugnay ng dagdag-kontribusyon sa Philhealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2020   •   115

MANILA, Philippines – Umani ng batikos ang Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) sa ipinatutupad nitong dagdag sa premium contribution ng mga overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sa gitna ng krisis na dala ng pagkalat ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa social media, naglabas ng saloobin ang maraming OFW sa bagong direktiba ng Philhealth na taasan ng tatlong porsiyento ang kanilang kontribusyon alinsunod sa nakasaad sa Republic Act 11223 o ang Universal Health Care Law.

Sa inilabas na Circular No. 2020-0014, sinabi ng Philhealth na mula sa 2.75% noong 2019 ay itataas na ngayong taon sa 3% ng monthly base salary ang babayaran ng mga OFW na kumikita ng nasa P10,000 hanggang P60,000.

Ibig sabihin, kung ang isang OFW ay may buwanang sahod na $400 o katumbas ng P20,800, obligado siyang magbayad ng P624 sa Philhealth kada buwan.

Kung nasa $1,154 naman o P60,000 ang sahod ng OFW, kailangan siyang magbayad ng P1,800 kada buwan.

Kung hindi naman mabayaran sa tamang oras ang kontribusyon ay magkakaroon ito ng compounded interest na 1.5%, ayon sa Philhealth.

Binatikos naman ito ng mga OFW dahil anila, hindi nila lubos na napapakinabangan ang Philhealth benefits.

Umapela rin ang ilan sa kanila na sana ay ikunsidera ang kanilang kalagayan lalo na sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

Sa social media post, sinabi ng OFW na nagpakilalang si Kim na handa siyang magbayad ng Philhealth contribution pero sana ay ibaba ang antas nito nang hindi naman gaanong mabigatan ang mga Pilipinong nagtatrabaho sa ibayong-dagat.

“I know as a Filipino, responsibilidad namin mag contribute para sa ikakaunlad ng Pilipinas pero sana naman po hindi sa ganitong paraan na parang nasakal kami bigla sa laki ng babayaran na di man lang kami tinanong kung masakit ba yan sa bulsa naming,” ani Kim.

“Super malaking aray po iyan lalo na sa maliit ang sahod at maraming binabayaran, pinapakain at pinapaaral. Please lang po paki revise nyo naman po sana, ibaba nyo sa porsyento na parang di naman ikaka ngiwi naming nagbubuwis buhay abroad,” dagdag pa niya.

Hiling naman ng OFW na si Marlon Sarguet na naghahanap-buhay sa Melbourne, Australia, sana ay mabigyan sila ng opsyon at huwag gawing mandatory ang pagbabayad ng Philhealth premium rate.

“Hindi po ako payag sa 3% na pagkaltas sa amin kasi bilang isang OFW ay panibagong pabigat naman po sa amin. Sana po ay magkaroon ng option at hindi po mandatory. Salamat po,” ani Marlon.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ni Kabayan Party-list Representative Ron Salo, isa sa mga may-akda ng Universal Health Care Law, na suportado niya ang mga panawagang suspindihin muna ang pagpapatupad ng dagdag-singil sa Philhealth contribution ng mga OFW sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

“As one of the primary authors and original proponents of Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, I support our OFWs’ call for a moratorium on the increase of Philhealth premiums in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” ani Salo.

Gayunman, binigyang-diin ni Salo na sang-ayon sa batas, natutulungan na rin ng kontribusyon ng mga OFW ang kanilang pamilya at maging ang mga Pilipinong mahihirap at walang kapasidad na magbayad ng health insurance.

Sa panig naman ng Philhealth, sinabi ng tagapagsalita nitong si Dr. Shirley Domingo na sumusunod lamang sila sa nakasaad sa Universal Health Care Law.

Ngunit dahil sa umiiral na COVID-19 health crisis, may inilalatag ang Philhealth na flexible payment scheme kung saan may opsyon ang mga OFW – pati na ang ibang direct-paying self-employed members — na bayaran ang kontribusyon sa loob ng isang taon.

Tiniyak rin ni Domingo na pinag-uusapan na ngayon ng Philhealth Board ang iba pang rekomendasyon at mga hakbang na maaaring ipatupad upang maibsan ang bigat na pinapasan ng mga OFW sa pagbabayad ng premium rate. – RRD (may ulat mula kay Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Pacquiao seeks 1-year freeze on Philhealth premium rate hike for health workers

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday said he has filed a resolution calling for a one-year suspension of the increase in Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) premium contributions for healthcare workers amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In Senate Resolution 429, Pacquiao urged the Senate to call for the suspension of the increase in Philhealth premium rate for healthcare professionals for the year 2020 “as a token of gratitude” to their sacrifices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The senator filed the resolution as Philhealth is poised to implement an increase in premium payments from 2.75% to 3% of its members’ monthly salary.

The increase is provided in the Universal Health Care Act, which provides for the automatic enrolment of all Filipino citizens in the government’s National Health Insurance Program. The law also mandates an annual increase in premium rate until it reaches 5% by 2024.

“The first year of the implementation of the increased rate of premium contributions, coincided with the advent and continuation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines,” the resolution read.

“This has constrained most, if not all, health care professionals and other health care workers in the country sacrificing and risking their well-being and even their lives, to help cure the afflicted and stem the surge of transmission of the disease caused by the Covid-19 virus,” it added.

Pacquiao also pointed out that the pandemic has resulted in the “disruption of the professional practice of the health care professionals concomitantly leading to the marked decrease in the income of health care professionals and related health care workers, and to some, even to the closure of their clinics.”

“Such a suspension may help these frontliners in a small way, but the recognition and expression of gratitude will go a little farther to support them moving forward,” he said.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) earlier called on the government to suspend the premium payment increase for medical workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Duterte orders PhilHealth to make premium payment for OFWs voluntary

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to make premium contributions voluntary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to mounting complaints from Filipinos here and abroad.

READ: PhilHealth’s 3% mandatory pay hike amid global pandemic draws public ire

The President wants to ensure that no further load will be added to OFWs at this time of health and financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Nag-issue po ng direktiba ang ating Presidente sa Philhealth para gawing boluntaryo ang pagbabayad ng OFWs ng Philhealth premiums, [The President has already directed PhilHealth to make payment for PhilHealth contributionrs for OFWs voluntary,]” Roque confirmed. 

Roque, being one of the principal authors of the Universal Health Care Act during his time as Representative of Kabayan Partylist in the 17th Congress, stressed that there was no provision on his version of the law that orders mandatory additional premium contribution among OFWs.

He added that it was PhilHealth that included such provision as it is the one that crafted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said law.

Roque also clarified that PhilHealth premiums will only increase by 0.5%, and not 3%.

“Wala po sa batas na nagsasabi na dapat patawan ang mga OFWs ng karagdagang premiums sa pamamaraan na nais ipatupad ng Philhealth, [Mandatory payment of premium contributions for OFWs was not included in the original version the way PhilHealth wants it to happen,]” Roque.

“Iyan po ay nasa implementing rules and regulations, [They included it in the implementing rules and regulations,]” he added.

Roque also clarified that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) do not require payments of PhilHealth premiums prior to processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Philhealth: Collection of contribution suspended amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) on Monday clarified that all collections of contribution have been temporarily suspended amid the crisis brought about by the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In an interview in UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan Program, Philhealth spokesperson Dr. Shirley Domingo said the collection was suspended in consideration of those who are not receiving their monthly salaries due to the work stoppage in different sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philhealth issued the statement following protests of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) on the new premium rates imposed by the state health insurer.

READ: Mga OFW, may apela kaugnay ng dagdag-kontribusyon sa Philhealth

An online petition against the premium rate hike has so far reached over 300,000 signatures, as of posting time.

The protest stemmed from the Circular 2020-0014 issued by the agency in April requiring OFWs who are earning P10,000 to P60,000 to pay three percent of their monthly salary starting 2020. This is higher than the 2.75% in the previous year.

Domingo said the implementation of the increased rate is stated under the Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, stressing that they are only following the law.

However, she emphasized that in recognition of the present situation, Philhealth is not collecting any contribution at this time.

Domingo also said that the agency has adopted a flexible payment scheme where OFWs and other members can finish their premiums for the year.

In a separate statement, Philhealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales assured they fully understand the sentiments of OFWs regarding the increase in premiums, and that they are exploring several possibilities to cushion its impact.

“Recognizing that everyone is cash-strapped during these difficult times, and in the spirit of the recently passed Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan We Heal As One Law which is government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, PhilHealth has adopted a flexible payment scheme which will allow OFWs – and all other directly paying self-employed members – to pay their contributions within the year,” Morales said.

He said the Philhealth had earlier released P30 billion in advance to some 5,000 nationwide accredited hospitals to provide financial protection to Filipinos amid the COVID-19 crisis.

He also explained that the purpose of the Universal Health Care Act is to provide affordable and adequate healthcare to all Filipinos.

“Such a program requires funding collected through premium contributions,” Morales said.

He reported that in 2019, 44% of the premiums were subsidized by the national government while the balance was collected from individual members and their employers, where OFWs are counted.

“Benefits-wise, 36% of beneficiaries were from the informal and private sector while 37% were accounted for from the indigents and senior citizens whose premiums were paid by the national government,” he said.

“Last year, with a collection from OFWs amounting to P 1.02 Billion (comprising 1% of premiums from direct contributors), OFWs claimed P 1.7 Billion in benefits with 69% of claims attributed to their dependents in the country while 31% was claimed by overseas OFWs,” he added.

Under the UHC Act, benefit coverage is planned to be increased and expanded so that more Filipinos can be served better.

“This is the fundamental basis for the premium increase. These ambitious health goals must be supported by adequate funding collected through increased premium rates,” Morales said.

“PhilHealth commits to continue exploring means to soften and alleviate the impact of the premium rate increase, but it cannot change the law,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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