OFWs welcomed the President’s decision scrapping the compulsory increased premium payments mandated by PhilHealth.
He gave the directive following the OFWs criticism that the recommended increased in their compulsory contributions for their PhilHealth would just be an additional burden especially in the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the decision of President Duterte is to make the payments no longer mandatory but just voluntary. He also added that during crisis, the President has decided that forcing OFWs to pay higher premium payments will just add more burden to them especially when a lot of them have already lost their jobs.
He emphasized that OFWs no longer need to pay their PhilHealth premiums before allowing them to go abroad. Roque also said that instead of the 3%, the PhilHealth proposed contribution was actually 0.5%.
PhilHealth recognizes the position of OFWs about the premium payment increase. The state insurance firm stated that the increase was in fact declared last year and that the terms of payment is flexible in order to shield the effect of the increase. In addition, the objective of the increase was to give adequate and affordable health care to every Filipino.
Premium Increase Criticized
A lot of groups and individuals including Migrante International criticized the PhilHealth increase on insurance premium. Another group which declared its displeasure over the premium increase was the Gabriela Women’s Party, saying that the Duterte government and PhilHealth are stone-hearted and they don’t have a sense of compassion. Even the Kilusang Mayo Uno rebuked the announcement of PhilHealth which increases the OFWs required contribution from 2.75% to 3% for individuals earning ten thousand to sixty thousand pesos.
Delay on Payments
PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales stated that the new premium collection has been delayed up to May 30, 2020, under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or RA 11469 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the crisis, PhilHealth is examining making the payment optional tentatively. Morales said that they are thinking about longer period of delay or moratorium and in return, the payment period will be flexible. He also clarified that PhilHealth didn’t press for the moratorium in the past since some OFWs are willing to pay their premium even with the COVID-19, which they will not decline because they have to find ways to support the fund.
PhilHealth has also coordinated with POEA and OWWA to let departing Overseas Filipino Workers as well as their dependents to register with them.
Up to this writing, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation stood by its position that the increase was built on the intensified aid coverage under the Universal Health Care Act. OFWs all over the world are still waiting for the order from the government to not just ‘delay’ the premium increase but to scrap it altogether.