MANILA – Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is pushing for a suspension in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) plan to collect higher contributions from members starting next year.
This, after PhilHealth announced on Tuesday the collection of higher monthly premiums, which will rise in the new year by 0.5 percent. The present contribution is 3 percent of monthly income.
Under Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, those who have a monthly basic salary of PHP10,000 and below will have a fixed contribution of PHP350 a month starting January 2021. Those earning PHP10,000.01 to PHP69,999.99 have a monthly premium between PHP350 to PHP2,449.99. Meanwhile, those earning PHP70,000 and higher per month will pay a fixed rate of PHP2,450 monthly.
In a statement on Thursday, Go recognized that seeking higher contributions would be an additional burden to Filipinos, especially those who lost their livelihood amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
He said that deferring the increase in contributions may be possible should a third Bayanihan law be enacted into law.
“Naiintindihan ko ang mga kababayan natin. Huwag nating dagdagan ang kanilang mga pasanin. Puwede nating pag aralan na i-amend ‘yung law or i-defer natin ito through a provision in Bayanihan 3 (I understand our citizens. Let’s not give them an additional burden. We can study making amendments in the law or deferring it through a provision in Bayanihan 3),” he said.
Go recognized the need to have higher contributions to assure enough funding for healthcare benefits of its 110 million members as mandated by UHC law.
“I recognize that this increase is mandated by the UHC law, pinasa po ito ng (this was passed by) both houses of Congress and is necessary to sustain the services of PhilHealth para sa (for) Universal Health Care,” he said.
However, he said that it would be difficult to expect Filipinos to pay higher contributions while struggling to feed their families.
“We cannot afford also na masakripisyo itong UHC natin dahil lahat ng Pilipino ay miyembro ng PhilHealth sa ilalim ng Universal Health Care Law. Ayaw nating umabot sa punto na wala nang pambayad ang PhilHealth (to sacrifice the UHC because not all Filipinos are members of PhilHealth under the Universal Health Care Law. We don’t want to reach the point where PhilHealth won’t have funds to pay for healthcare services),” he said.
Go said he will raise before President Rodrigo Duterte the possibility to let government shoulder expenses needed to sustain PhilHealth’s services.
“I will personally appeal to the President na kung maaari, government na lang po ang mag-infuse or mag-augment later on kung saka-sakaling kukulangin ang pera ng PhilHealth (that if possible, the government will be the one to infuse or augment later on if PhilHealth runs out of funds),” he said. “Dapat ang gobyerno ang sumalo nito, lalung-lalo na sa mga kapatid nating mahihirap na walang pambayad (The government should shoulder this, especially that of citizens who are poor and cannot afford to pay).”
Meanwhile, Go warned PhilHealth officials against being involved in corrupt practices after a whistleblower claimed that some PHP15 billion were pocketed by alleged mafia members at the state insurer.
“Let me remind PhilHealth, kung merong pumasok sa inyo na remittances, gamitin ninyo ang pera ng taumbayan sa tama at siguraduhing walang mananakaw (when you receive remittances, use public funds correctly and make sure there are no thieves),” he said.
In May, Duterte ordered PhilHealth to implement the voluntary paying of premium by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) after groups criticized the state insurer’s move to increase by .25 percent the premium contribution of OFWs starting this year.
Duterte’s decision aims to ease their burden as OFWs continue to struggle with the impact of the pandemic. (PNA)