Congress urged to suspend PhilHealth rate hike for OFWs

Published May 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Leslie Ann Aquino

To ease the anxiety of Filipino workers overseas (OFWs), the Blas F. Ople Policy Center said the Senate and House of Representatives should pass a joint resolution indefinitely suspending the hike in PhilHealth premium contributions of OFWs and migrant workers.

Susan Ople (Manila Bulletin)

The policy center said that while the moratorium declared by PhilHealth is a step in the right direction, it still causes anxiety among OFWs.

“The declaration of a moratorium was announced only through media interviews. This should be done through the appropriate memorandum circular and should clearly state that PhilHealth will not collect on any missed contributions of OFWs with a 1.5% compounded monthly interest once the virus has been contained,” Susan Ople, head of the policy center, said in a statement.

She said since a joint resolution passed by the Senate and the House would have the force of law, it will greatly ease the anxiety of workers overseas.

“The joint resolution can reimpose the previous fixed rate of P2,400 a year for migrant workers,” said Ople.

She also explained that unlike local workers, OFWs cannot compel their employers to share with them the cost of the health insurance premium.

“To peg the premium based on the salary of an OFW is unfair because he or she will be shouldering the entire amount. This will eat up a huge chunk of dollar remittances meant for their family’s basic needs,” Ople said.

She said OFWs face an uncertain future with lockdowns and curfews, travel bans and no work, no pay schemes due to COVID-19.

“But they are holding on and trying their best to survive – they are the informal social amelioration program that keeps households afloat. They don’t deserve a flawed provision that seeks to take away more than they can afford for a health insurance that they rarely, if at all, need to avail themselves of.”

The Blas Ople Policy Center also stressed that they are not against universal health care.

“We are against legislation without representation,” the labor advocate said as she chided legislators for failing to invite OFW groups and private sector representatives in public hearings concerning the Universal Health Care Act.