MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered the deferment of the scheduled increase this year of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation's (PhilHealth) contribution rate for members.
Duterte, in a public briefing, told PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran to suspend the monthly premium hike amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Huwag muna ngayon (Not right now). No increase in contributions. I will look for the money to fill it up," he said.
Under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, the state insurer's monthly rates will rise to 3.5 percent in January 2021 from 3 percent last year, raising minimum contributions to P350 from the current P300.
The law also adjusts the income ceiling to P70,000 from P60,000, increasing monthly contributions to P2,450 from P1,800.
His former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go earlier said lawmakers have to pass legislation to push back the rate hike, and Duterte would sign this into law.
Duterte is also willing to approve additional funds for PhilHealth, according to the senator.
PhilHealth senior manager Rey Balena earlier said that rate adjustment is expected to yield "close to P90 billion" revenues from collections in 2021. Direct contributions in the agency in 2020 generated P77 billion in revenues.
The rate hike led to public uproar, earning the ire of many netizens and officials, reminding the agency of allegations of its former leaders pocketing P15 billion in state funds, approving overpriced projects, and releasing funds to supposedly favored hospitals.
The state insurer's debt to the Philippine Red Cross also earlier forced the humanitarian organization to halt its PhilHealth-funded tests for the novel coronavirus.--With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News