Call to suspend PhilHealth’s premium hike gains support

AN assistant minority leader on Thursday backed the call of teachers to suspend the premium contribution hike of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said the premium hike already disrupted teachers’ payment of loans and other bills with their measly salaries.

“We strongly urge the suspension of the PhilHealth premium hike amid the soaring prices of basic goods, commodities and services,” Castro said. “The hike has already caused the failure of payment of teachers’ loans with their measly salaries barely sufficient for their daily needs following the implementation of the premium hike last June 15.”

According to the solon, the Makabayan bloc filed House Joint Resolution 34 in January 2021 mandating the immediate suspension of the increase in the PhilHealth premium rate amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution remained pending in the Committee on Health in the last Congress, Castro said.

The teacher-solon said the incoming 19th Congress should find the urgency and prioritize the immediate suspension of the increase in PhilHealth’s premium rate.

“Government must prioritize wage hikes for our workers instead of imposing increases in contributions, especially in agencies with massive corruption issues,” Castro said.

She urges Congress to “urgently hear House Joint Resolution 34 filed by the Makabayan bloc, seeking to defer the looming PhilHealth premium hike amid massive price hikes and glaring unresolved issues in the PhilHealth.”

Increase is vital

EARLIER, PhilHealth told lawmakers that this increase is “vital” in the attainment of the goals of Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

The premium increase was introduced this year through PhilHealth Advisory 2022-0010 as authorized by Section 10 of Republic Act 11223 and with the support of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The PhilHealth has said it is duty-bound to collect the higher premium rate of 4 percent this year since Congress has yet to pass a new law allowing the deferment of scheduled premium adjustment in the UHC Act.

Under the UHC law, premium rates should gradually increase starting from 2.75 percent in 2019 until it reaches 5 percent for both 2024 and 2025. The premium rate for this year should be at 4 percent, with the income floor fixed at P10,000 and the income ceiling set at P80,000.

PhilHealth last year agreed to postpone the premium hike to 3.5 percent from 3 percent in 2020 under an “interim arrangement” that will be good only until Congress passes a new law allowing for the deferment.