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

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2020   •   692

MANILA, Philippines — State insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on April 22 reminded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) of the mandatory premium rate hike for this year.

But the announcement sparked outrage especially from “modern day heroes” who slammed the rate adjustment as a form of injustice at this time of a global health pandemic.

More than 300,000 have signed an online petition against it.

“Hindi po ako payag. Panibagong pabigat naman po sa amin. Sana po ay magkaroon ng option at hindi po mandatory,” said Marlon Sarguet, an OFW in Australia.

Alfred Busa argued that they also pay health insurance abroad but not as high as three percent and they are able to enjoy its benefits.

“Sa health insurance na iyon ng Taiwan, kumbaga mararamdaman mo talaga ang hinuhulugan mo, pero hindi siya ganun kalaki,” he said.

“I support universal healthcare, but this is nuts. Absolutely nuts. I seriously wonder how they’re going to enforce this on all overseas Filipinos. What are they going to do? Bar me from leaving the country unless I pay up?” wrote Josh Lim, an OFW in the US.

“Definitely bad legislating on the part of Congress and/or bad rule-making on the part of PhilHealth,” he added.

Even Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin slammed Philhealth, telling the agency to ‘leave the OFWs alone’ as the payment does not even benefit them .

Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron Salo, one of the original proponents of the Universal Health Care Law, meanwhile, expressed support for the OFWs’ call for a moratorium on the premium rate hike and explained that the Law actually provides benefits to contributors including OFWs.

“I support our OFW’s call for a moratorium on the increase of Philhealth premiums in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Finally, it is worthy to note that the UHC Law provides that those who are directly contributing premiums should be given better health coverage,” he noted adding that member contributions also benefit Filipinos who are not able to pay for medical services.

What OFWs need to know about the new premium rate hike

The state insurer on April 22 published on its social media page details of the law which explains the mandatory premium rate hike for OFWs starting this year.

PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014, first announced in December 2019, states that all overseas Filipinos including their dependents living and working abroad must remit 3% of their monthly monthly salary to the agency, an increase from last year’s 2.7%.

The law covers overseas Filipinos working and living abroad including their dependents, even those who are on-vacation or are still waiting for documentation, registered on not with the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). 

By overseas Filipinos mean:

  • Land-based OFWs
  • Seafarers and other sea-based workers
  • Filipinos with dual citizenship (RA 9225)
  • Filipinos living abroad
  • Overseas Filipinos in distress
  • Other overseas Filipinos not previously classified elsewhere
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It’s a tiered payment computation which gradually increases each year starting from 2019 to 2025:

  • 2019 – 2.5%
  • 2020 – 3%
  • 2021 – 3.5%
  • 2022 – 4%
  • 2023 – 4.5
  • 2024 and 2025 – 5%

Based on PhilHealth’s computation, OFWs who earn monthly salary of P10,000 will have to pay P630 each month or P7,400 for the whole year while those who receive P60,000 a month will have to pay P1,800 each month or P21,000 for the whole year.

Since 2020 is the transition period, an OFW will have to pay an initial amount of P2,400 then he or she may opt to pay the remaining balance in full or in quarterly payments. 

By 2021, the initial payment will be 3 months of the OFWs salary and the remaining amount may be paid in full or in quarterly installments.

An OFW may opt to pay in full for one year or by quarterly installments.

Payment mode for sea based OFWs must be made monthly through salary deductions by their manning agency or employers. 

All overseas Filipinos are required to submit proof of actual income to which PhilHealth will compute the monthly premium contribution.

Missed contributions beyond the due date must be paid with monthly compounded interests. 

The new measure takes effect on May 5,  that’s 15 days after its publication in a major newspaper on April 22. 

PhilHealth extends payment deadline for employers to Feb. 22

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has extended the remittance deadline for employers to February 22.

This is for contributions applicable for the month of January.

In a statement, the agency said the extension of the deadline is in view of the technical issues in the Electronic Premium Remittance System (EPRS).

The technical glitch since February 11 has prevented employers from generating their statement of premium accounts or billing statements. 

The agency said the extension applies to all employers in the private and government sectors nationwide.

For assistance, employers may contact the local PhilHealth office.

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Over 350k overseas Filipinos repatriated since Feb. 2020—DFA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Over 350,000 overseas Filipinos (OFs) have been repatriated since February 2020, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The DFA reported it has repatriated 4,549 OFs in the last week of January 2021, reaching a total of 356,126 OFs since the department began its repatriation program in February of last year.

Among the recently repatriated are undocumented OFs from Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Jordan and China. There were also three distressed OFs from Indonesia and one OF with a medical condition.

“Out of the total number we brought home this week, 692 were seafarers while 3,857 were land-based OFWs,” the DFA said.

The DFA also reiterated that it continues to coordinate with Philippine government agencies, airlines, and other private companies on the repatriation program for overseas Filipinos. AAC

OFWs for repatriation decide to stay after getting COVID-19 vaccine shot – Bello

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported that some overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have taken back their decision to fly home to the Philippines after getting a shot of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.

Most of them who preferred to stay are OFWs in the Middle East.

Bello said they believe they would have greater chances to get another job since they were already vaccinated. 

“Mayroong mga almost about 100,000 who applied for repatriation. Iyon ang nire-repatriate pa natin,” Bello noted.

“Nabigla kami bilang mayroon siguro around 60% of those who asked for repatriation suddenly changed their minds and said, “No, hindi na kami uuwi”. Tinanong natin kung bakit, iyon pala na-vaccinate na sila,” he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment has, so far, logged around 420,000 repatriated overseas Filipinos since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 60,000 OFWs are on queue for repatriation this year and the agency still has a P5-B fund for this from President Rodrigo Duterte. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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