In answer to the petition titled “Remove Philhealth Mandatory 3% Premium Payment from OFW’s Salary” filed on Change.org by a group called OFWs, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) President, Retired Brigadier General Ricardo Morales, discussed clarifications on the matter in an interview this morning with Leo Palo of Radyo Pilipinas 738.
The petition, which has 398,000 signatures as of press time, was started in response to PhilHealth circular 2020-0014 that mandates Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to pay a premium equivalent to 3% of their salaries per month, and specifies the penalties and compounded interest for missed payments.
Gen. Morales said that what is stated in the circular is part of PhilHealth’s implementation of the Universal Health Care Act (RA11223) that was approved by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on February 20, 2019. The law provides that the premium is meant to be increased yearly by 0.5% starting 2020 until the targeted monthly rate of 5% is achieved in 2024.
While it was not officially announced, Gen. Morales confirms that like other government agencies, PhilHealth has given a moratorium on the collection of premiums. The reason they did not release a declaration regarding this is to avoid confusion for those who can and would like to continue making their monthly contributions.
He confirmed that a flexible payment scheme will be applied moving forward, and PhilHealth members can complete their payments by the end of the year.
According to Gen. Morales, there are about 10 million Filipinos working abroad that send remittances back to the Philippines. However, PhilHealth has only 3.6 million recorded as members. They are coordinating with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to list and register each one for coverage.
He adds that in 2019, PhilHealth collected around P1.02 billion in premiums from OFWs, and P1.7 billion in benefit payments was released to OFW members and their dependents.