PhilHealth sticking to hike premiums by Jan. 2021 as 'mandated by law'

Nika Lazo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2020 01:32 PM

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MANILA - Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) will go ahead with the monthly premium hike of 3.5 percent beginning Jan. 1 next year as it is mandated by law, a PhilHealth official said Wednesday.

Under Section 10 of the Universal Health Care Act, monthly rates will rise to 3.5 percent in 2021 from 3 percent this year, thus raising minimum contributions to P350 from the current P300.

"Atas iyan ng batas. Wala pong kapangyarihan ang PhilHealth na hindi ipatupad at amyendahan ang batas," Rey Baleña, senior manager of PhilHealth Corporate Communications Department, said in an interview with TeleRadyo.

(It is mandated by law. PhilHealth has no power to amend the law and stall implementation.)

"Naniniwala ang ahensya na ito ang kailangan ng bayan lalo na at kinakalaban natin ang COVID-19. Tuloy po ang implementasyon ng mga programa at pagpapatupad ng Universal Healthcare," he added.

(We believe this is needed by our country as we fight COVID-19. We will continue to implement programs under the Universal Healthcare law.)

Under the law, the income ceiling will also be adjusted to P70,000 from P60,000, making monthly contributions rise to P2,450 from P1,800, Baleña said.

The rate adjustment is expected to yield "close to P90 billion" revenues from collections in 2021, said Balena. Direct contributions this year generated P77 billion in the agency's revenues.

"Malaking karagdagan po ito sa kasalukuyang pondo ng PhilHealth para maipagpatuloy natin ang mga reporma na nasimulan natin since 2019," he added.

(This is a significant reinforcement to PhilHealth funds for us to continue reforms we started in 2019.)

The PhilHealth official is referring to the "immediate eligibility" of members for healthcare services, especially those confined in hospitals and needing medical aid.

Baleña said they will also rollout Konsulta Package or Konsultasyong Sulit at Tama, which seeks to assign a designated healthcare provider -- whether a doctor or any healthcare professional -- to do regular checkups on Filipinos.

This can address the long-standing problem of not being able to detect illnesses of Filipinos even until death, Baleña said.

Like PhilHealth, SSS is also hiking its monthly contribution rates to 13 percent starting Jan. 1, from 12 percent at present.

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Workers and business groups had appealed against the imposition of the increase in PhilHealth and SSS contribution rates because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PhilHealth this year also went through another round of investigation over alleged irregularities amid the coronavirus health crisis, resulting in changes in its leadership.

Also speaking with TeleRadyo on Wednesday, Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines said they are waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte's decision on their appeal to delay the hike of the contributions. 

He said if payment of taxes and electricity were deferred, then contribution adjustment for PhilHealth and SSS can be the same, through the emergency powers of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 (IATF).

Ortiz-Luis noted it is hard to justify the rate increase when PhilHealth is also under fire due to corruption allegations.

"Yung pagtaas, i-defer muna yan. Sa panahon ngayon, kahit na piso, mahalaga sa mga tao, dahil kulang talaga kita ng tao," he said.

(Defer the hikes first. A single peso is valuable to the people during these times with their meager earnings.)

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