Blue Ribbon invites Philhealth officials in hearing on state insurance anomaly

Maris Federez   •   August 6, 2019   •   880

Senator Panfilo Lacson

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has set its hearing on the alleged anomaly in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) on Thursday (August 8).

In his privilege speech, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that Php153-Billion of Philhealth’s fund had gone to overpayments and fraud.

Lacson added that he had requested to send invitations to several Philhealth officials who can testify to the alleged anomaly in the state insurance agency.

“Mga regional senior vice presidents kasi [These are regional senior vice presidents because] many of the information that we got came from insiders from Philhealth themselves,” Lacson said.  (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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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