Philhealth: Collection of contribution suspended amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2020   •   924

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)

PhilHealth urged to fast track issuance of circular on extension of hemodialysis treatment

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – An advocacy group is calling on the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to expedite the release of a memorandum circular regarding the extension of coverage for hemodialysis patients from 90 to 144 sessions.

“Ang problema kasi dito ngayon kaya namin hinihiling ito kasi walang pera ang mga tao ngayon na ipapaluwal doon sa treatment. Ang nangyayari hindi sila talaga nakakasalang [We are asking for this now because the problem is many patients have no money to support their treatment. The tendency is to skip the treatment],” Dialysis.PH president Raynaldo Abacan Jr. said.

Just recently, PhilHealth President and CEO Atty. Dante Guerran announced the supposedly good news which is part of the provision of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law.

It gives patients the privilege for their much needed hemodialysis until December 31 of this year.

But according to Dialysis.PH, many dialysis centers do not honor Atty. Gerran’s pronouncement and demand a formal circular.

Magandang balita. Maraming nag-comply pero ang nakakalungkot meron pa ring mga centers na hindi nag-comply [That’s good news. Many have complied but the sad thing is many centers still did not],” Abacan said.

In his announcement, Gierran said he ordered all PhilHealth regional offices and other health facilities to accept dialysis patients even if they have finished the initial 90 sessions. 

He added that patients may reimburse from PhilHealth any amount that they paid outside of the 90 days free sessions.

The agency said it is now drafting the memorandum circular for that matter.

PhilHealth to cover hemodialysis up to 144 sessions until Dec. 31

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has decided to continue the coverage for hemodialysis patients to 144 sessions until the end of the year.

“The PhilHealth Board approved on November 11 continuing coverage of hemodialysis sessions beyond 90-session limit to maximum 144 sessions which can be availed of until December 31, 2020,” the state insurer said Monday (November 16).

The agency said it will immediately issue guidelines through a Circular that will direct all regional offices and concerned healthcare facilities to continue honoring availments beyond the 90-session limit as duly prescribed by a licensed physician.

Meanwhile, hemodialysis patients who paid for their sessions can file their claims at the nearest PhilHealth office.

The agency has not detailed when the circular for guidelines would be released.

Gierran assures suspension of execs won’t affect PhilHealth functions

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president and CEO Dante Gierran on Thursday said the agency will continue rendering its services and functions despite the suspension of eight of its executives.

“PhilHealth assures its members and stakeholders that its mandate and services shall continuously proceed unhampered notwithstanding the challenges that it is currently facing as part of the necessary reforms needed to be undertaken to further improve its services toward the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Filipinos,” Gierran said in a statement.

Gierran issued the statement after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of eight PhilHealth officials over the alleged anomalous release of funds under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism Policy.

Among those ordered suspended by the Ombudsman are Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, Executive Vice President Renato Limsiaco, Senior Vice President Dr. Israel Pargas, Area Vice President Gregorio Rulloda, Benefits Administration Section Head Dr. Imelda Trinidad De Vera-Pe, Manager Lolita Tuliao, Fiscal Examiner Gemma Sibucao, and Fiscal Controller Lailani Padua.

The Ombudsman said the suspension order is in relation to the investigation being done on administrative cases of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

“PhilHealth Management acknowledges the recent Order of the Office of the Ombudsman putting several of its Executive Officers and Personnel under preventive suspension for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. We shall abide and implement the suspension Orders accordingly,” Gierran said.

“PhilHealth Management maintains the constitutional rights of its Officers and Personnel on its presumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” he added.

“We trust that the Honorable Office of the Ombudsman will accordingly observe objectivity, justice, and fairness, and allow our concerned Officers and personnel the due process to properly explain and defend themselves,” Gierran further stated.


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