House works on suspension of PhilHealth premium hike

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) – January 7, 2021 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers are now working on the necessary measure to defer the scheduled increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) contributions this year.

Last Tuesday, 54 congressmen crossed party lines to file the joint resolution suspending the implementation of the PhilHealth premium hike as mandated under Republic Act 11223 (Universal Health Care Act).

“The massive displacement of workers and harsh economic conditions brought about by the pandemic should be considered as a fortuitous event…for the suspension of a premium rate contribution by the state insurance firm,” read the resolution filed while Congress is still in recess.

The measure was filed after President Duterte ordered the suspension of the premium rate increase and after Speaker Lord Allan Velasco committed that the House would review the UHC.

At the Senate, Sen. Bong Go appealed to financial managers to “find a viable solution to achieve universal health care for all without imposing unnecessary burden to ordinary Filipinos during this challenging time.”

He said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and PhilHealth CEO Dante Gierran are working on how the government can unburden Filipinos by shouldering the cost while ensuring that the UHC law is implemented and the services of PhilHealth are unhampered.

Go recognized that on the part of the legislature, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Velasco have committed to act immediately on calls to defer the increase of the monthly contribution rates.

One of the proponents of the measure, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, explained that PhilHealth programs may still continue even if the increase in contributions is suspended since it can always dip into its reserve funds.

She said PhilHealth is aware that members lack the willingness to pay high premium rates, especially among voluntary members.

The scheduled increase would take 3.5 percent off an individual’s monthly salary, up from the three percent from last year.

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