PhilHealth adopts 'flexible payment scheme' for members

Published May 4, 2020, 8:14 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Amid the public uproar over the increase in the premium contributions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has decided to adopt a “flexible payment scheme.”

PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales

“Recognizing that everyone is cash-strapped during these difficult times, and in the spirit of the recently passed R.A. (Republic Act No.) 11469 or the Bayanihan We Heal As One Law, which is government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PhilHealth has adopted a flexible payment scheme which will allow OFWs – and all other directly paying self-employed members – to pay their contributions within the year,” PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said in a statement.

He said the agency understands the sentiments of OFWs regarding the increase of premiums. They have already explored several possibilities in order to “cushion” the impact of the increase.

“As an agency of government sensitive to the welfare and well-being of all Filipinos, PhilHealth commits to continue exploring means to soften and alleviate the impact of premium rate increase,” Morales said, adding that they “cannot change the law.”

Morales explained that the purpose of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act is to provide affordable and adequate healthcare to all Filipinos. In order to achieve its goal, the act requires funding collected through premium contributions.

In 2019, Morales revealed that 44 percent of the premiums were subsidized by the national government while the balance was collected from individual members and their employers, among which OFWs are counted.

Benefits-wise, 36 percent of beneficiaries were from the informal and private sector, while 37 percent were indigents and senior citizens whose premiums were paid for by the national government.

Morales said Filipinos were able to enjoy the fruits of the contributions as some 10 to 12 million Filipinos yearly – almost 12 percent of the national population – avail of PhilHealth services for procedures ranging from natural childbirth to kidney transplants.

Last year, PhilHealth collected some P1.02 billion from OFWs, comprising one percent of premiums from direct contributors. However, Morales said OFWs also claimed P1.7 billion in benefits, with 69 percent of claims attributed to the dependents of OFWs in the country while 31 percent was claimed by overseas OFWs.

Morales said the premium increase will be used for “ambitious health goals” so that more Filipinos can be served. Now that the country is dealing with a major health crisis, Morales said PhilHealth has already rolled out a P30 billion COVID-19 response fund which is now being used by some 5,000 accredited health care facilities nationwide.

“Year 1 of UHC coincided with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Even wealthy nations – nations with highly vaunted health systems – are struggling to protect their citizens. The Philippines has not been spared from this scourge.”