PhilHealth ordered to answer petitions on premium rate hike

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 14 2014 10:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2014 06:34 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to answer a petition questioning the increase in premium contributions of its members.

In a resolution released yesterday, the high court directed PhilHealth and Malacañang to submit its comment on the petition of militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) that also sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the increase of PhilHealth premium from P750 to P1,000.

The respondents were given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply.

In a 23-page petition filed last month, the KMU urged the SC to declare the increase null and void for failing to comply with a “reasonable, equitable and progressive contribution schedule” as mandated under Republic Act 10606 which amended RA 7875, the law that created PhilHealth.

The group noted that under PhilHealth Circular 0027-2013, the increase in contributions of PhilHealth members will only cover members with a salary range of P8,999 and below.

The petitioner also assailed PhilHealth Circular 0025-2013, which doubled the contributions for land-based Filipino overseas workers from P1,200 to P2,400 annually and PhilHealth Circular 0024-2013, which increased by P600 the annual PhilHealth contributions of members with monthly income of P25,000 and below while members with a monthly salary of above P25,000 retained their contribution rates.

PhilHealth earlier explained that the increase is necessary so that members could avail of in-patient hospital care, outpatient coverage and other special benefit packages.

But KMU said such objectives could be achieved without the increase.

KMU noted that PhilHealth awarded some P1.5 billion in bonuses and allowances to its top officials and employees in 2012.

The increase, which is set for implementation this year, would only cause additional burden to workers whose take-home pay would further be cut, KMU added.

The group said the adjustment also violates the requirement under RA 10606 for the conduct of an actuarial study prior to an increase in contributions.

Records show that 83 percent of the population or about 77 million are covered by PhilHealth as of June 2009.