If you’re a Filipino, or an overseas Filipino worker, get ready to pay more to PhilHealth, the state-owned health insurer starting this year.
Mandatory health insurance premiums for every expat Filipino worker â€”Â including domestic helpers â€” is set to spike by 186 per centÂ from 2019.
For a housemaid earning $400 a month, it will hit $242 (Dh892) per year by 2024, according a new lawÂ dubbed as a “new dawn” for healthcare in the Asian country.
On February 20, 2019, the Universal Health Care (UHC) Bill was signed into law (Republic Act No. 11223)Â by President Rodrigo Duterte. It automatically lists all Filipino citizens in the National Health Insurance Programme (NHIP).
The law prescribes certain reforms to bring world-class healthcare for all and incentivise Filipino health workers to stay back home, instead of leaving for better-paying jobs abroad.
In effect, it embodies a cross-subsidy principleÂ â€” where the rich and the state pay for what is envisioned as quality healthcare for all.
In theory, this is revolutionary: All Filipinos are automatically included in the NHIP. It also guarantees immediate eligibility to programne benefits.
Moreover, the new law gives citizen-members access to the “full continuum” of needed health services, and protects them from financial ruin when they fall ill. The law also mandates PhilHealth to come up with a comprehensive outpatient package â€” which include outpatient drugs within two years after its enactment.
In reality, as revealed by the Business Mirror, $242 premium per year could be a steep price toÂ pay for Filipino housemaids overseas, whose government-prescribed minimum pay is $400 (about Php20,000) a month.
Currently, theÂ fixed rate for premiums for PhilHealth for every OFW is Php2,400 (Dh172, or $47) across the board. Implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law are currently being drafted, which embodies a progressively higher PhilHealth premium.
This 2019,Â individual PhilHealth premiums would be raised to Php6,864 (Dh490) per year â€” a whopping 186 per cent spike from the current rate, according to Business Mirror.
By next year (2020), the annual premium will further rise to Php7,488 (Dh537).
By next yearÂ (2020), the annual premium will further rise to Php7,488 (Dh537).
By 2024, monthly contributions of an OFW domestic worker to PhilHealth would be set at Php1,040 or Php12,480 (Dh892, or $242) per year at the minimum, under the proposed rules.
An OFW who earns about $1,000 monthly (Php50,000) would have to pay PhilHealth premiums of Php16,500 when the new rates kick in.
It was not immediately clear if or when the IRR prescribing the new rates would be adopted.
A PhilHealth report in March did not mention if OFWs were consulted in crafting the IRR. “The event (drafting of implenting rules and regulations) was well attended by local and international experts and representatives from the academe, health care providers, local governments, collecting partners, regulatory agencies, among others,” a PhilHealth press release said at the time.
A vacationing OFW gets free medical treatment as a mandatory PhilHealth member. But there’s a caveat: free medical treatment can be availed of, provided but he or she would pay all missed contributions with interest, compounded monthly.
The new health law also does not specify the designation of an OFW representative to PhilHealthâ€™s Board of Directors.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
The law prescribes a healthcaremodel that â€œprovides all Filipinos access to a comprehensive set of quality and cost-effective, promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services without causing financial hardship and prioritizes the needs of the population who cannot afford such services.â€
PhilHealth (under the Department of Health, DOH), as a state-owned health insurance corporation, plays a critical role in ensuring that the provisions of this law are fulfilled.
The agency has been saddled with charges of corruption that has already seen its top executives getting axed.
OFWs’Â issue with PhilHealth
The PhilHealth Board of Directors faced the wrath of some OFWs after failure to resolve cases of those who claimed to have paid premiums to PhilHealth only to find out during desperate times that their premiums were pilfered and receipts were forged.
The investigation of such cases had been left with Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, though criminal liability is seen involving of liaison officers of recruitment agencies that may be in cahoots with PhilHealth insiders.
Who funds PhilHealth?
- â€¢ Total incremental sin tax collections as provided under Republic Act 10351 otherwise known as the â€œSin Tax Reform Lawâ€;
- â€¢ 50 percent of the national government share from the income of the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp.;
- â€¢ 40 percent of the Charity Fund, net of Documentary Stamp Tax Payments, and mandatory contributions of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office;
- â€¢ Premium contributions of members;
- â€¢ Annual appropriations of the DOH as included in the General Appropriations Act; and,
- â€¢ National government subsidy to PhilHealth included in the General Appropriations Act.
For the first year of the law’s implementation,Â Php254.8 billion (Php18.21 billion) has been allotted. Among others, the law mandates the establishment of a National Health Workforce (NHW) Support System.
In effect, every OFW-member will be asked to pay the near-double premium even before the main components of the UHC law are in place.
Promises of better healthcare for all have been drowned by charges of corruption, fraudulent claims and mismanagement at PhilHealth.
Whistleblowers have exposed at least one clinic conspiring to rip off PhilHealth for â€œghostâ€ dialysis treatments, and submitting spurious receipts, leading to several arrests recently.
On June 6, the agency released a statement saying they encourage whistleblowers who report fraud and conflicts of interest to come out in the open.
On June 21, a complaint was filed with the Ombudsman against Duterte’s Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, over his alleged stock ownership of a building leased to the PhilHealth.Â As health secretary, Duque serves as ex-officio chairman of PhilHealth, an agency attached to the Department of Health.
Some regions in the Philippines recorded outbreak proportions of pneumonia based on PhilHealth claims, rather than scientific medical data.
Here’s a link to the full copy of the law:
How can I check my PhilHealth status?
Here’s some basic PhilHealth information for OFWs. If you wish to verify your status, do the following:
(a) If you know your PhilHealth Identification Number o PIN, text it to +63-917-5129149.
(b) You may also email the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Last name
- First name
- Middle name