Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) no longer have to worry about paying higher PhilHealth premium contributions at this time of health crisis brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This is after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s decision for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to make payment for PhilHealth premiums voluntary for OFWs.
In his virtual press conference for members of the Malacañang Press Corps on May 4, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. confirmed that with the President’s latest action, Health Secretary Francisco Duque suspended the provision that imposes a higher PhilHealth premium contribution in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.
“Sa ngayon po, habang mayroon tayong krisis, ang naging desisyon ng Presidente, wag na muna tayong magpataw ng karagdagang pahirap sa ating mga OFWs lalong-lalo na sa panahon na napakadami sa kanila ang nare-repatriate at nawalan na rin ng trabaho,” said Secretary Roque.
As one of the authors that pushed for the approval of the Universal Health Care Law in the 17th Congress, the Palace Spokesman said that there is nothing in the said law that imposes a higher premium for OFWs.
“Bilang pangunahing nagsulong po ng Universal Health Care Law sa 17th Congress, lilinawin ko lang po, wala po sa batas na nagsasabi na dapat patawan ang mga OFWs ng karagdagang premium sa pamamaraan na nais pong ipatupad ng PhilHealth. Yan po ay nasa Implementing Rules and Regulation, para lang po sa kaalaman ng lahat.”
The Palace Official also announced that OFWs do not need to show proof of PhilHealth payment when getting an overseas employment certificate (OEC).
“Inanunsyo na rin po ng POEA at ng OWWA na hindi na po ire-require ang pagbayad ng PhilHealth premiums ng mga OFW para sila po maisyuhan ng kaukulang mga papeles, yung tinatawag na OEC para makalabas ng bansa,” Roque stressed.
On whether PhilHealth premiums will increase after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet official said that the reality in any insurance system is that increases in contributions will depend on actuarial science, the discipline that assesses risk in insurance and similar industries.
Secretary Roque also clarified he had no hand in the drafting of the IRR saying “Lilinawin ko lang po kanina nung sinabi ko na bilang isang, bilang awtor ng Universal Health Care, wala po sa batas yung ganitong pagsingil sa OFW, yan po ay nasa IRR at hindi man lang po ako naimbita dyan sa IRR na yan. So wala po tayong alam kung ano ang naging batayan nila sa pagsulat ng IRR na yan.”
On the alleged corruption and good governance issues in PhilHealth, Sec. Roque reminded the public of PRRD’s zero tolerance stand against corruption adding that the Ombudsman is already investigating corruption cases and complaints against PhilHealth.
“Inaasahan po natin na ang bagong liderato ng PhilHealth ay tingnan naman at pag-aralan itong mga reklamong ito,” Roque added.