Overseas Filipino workers will no longer be required to pay premiums to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Malacañang said Monday.
The directive was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte who said OFWs should pay on a voluntary basis, his spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.
Roque also said the payment of PhilHealth premium is no longer a requirement before OFWs can secure an overseas employment certificate.
He added Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced the suspension of a provision in the implementing rules and regulations on the mandatory increase in premium payments for OFWs.
“Sa ngayon po, habang meron tayong krisis, ang naging desisyon ng Presidente, huwag 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,” Roque said.
“Whether or not tataas po ‘yan, well, realidad po na ang isang insurance system ay kinakailangan naka-base sa actuarial science.”
PhilHealth recently issued a circular increasing the premium payments of OFWs whose monthly income ranged from P10,000 to P60,000 to 3% of their monthly salary starting this year.
The state insurer said this was stated in the Universal Health Care Law (Republic Act 11223), which Duterte signed last year.
An online petition on Change.org has since been mounted to repeal the measure, given the effects of the global health crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic.
OFW groups, numbering around 170 all over the world, have also called for moratorium on all collections due to the pandemic.
PhilHealth, in response to the controversy, said it is up to Congress, which resumes session on Monday, to review the hike in OFW premium payments.
Roque, who authored the bill when he was a party-list lawmaker, said the part about increasing OFW premium payments was not included in his bill.
The law states that for every increase in the rate of contribution, PhilHealth must provide for a corresponding increase in benefits. Failure to pay premiums shall not prevent the enjoyment of any benefits under the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).
PhilHealth is a tax-exempt government corporation attached to the Department of Health (DOH) mandated to administer the NHIP, which provides health care services to all Philippine citizens. — KBK/RSJ, GMA News