January 29, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 99 views

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez led the lawmakers in filing a measure that empower the President to suspend the increase in premiums of “direct contributors” of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth), including employees.

House Bill 6772 seeks to amend the Republic Act No. 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Act.

According to Romualdez, the suspension of the adjustment would remove an added financial burden on millions of government and private sector workers, professionals, self-employed, and other Philhealth contributors who are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said daily wage earners and many employees, who comprise the majority of Philhealth members, would save at least P50 a month or P600 a year from their health insurance premium payment if the adjustment were suspended.

Under Republic Act No. 11223, contributions will go up this year from 4 percent to 4.5 percent, or from the minimum monthly premium of P400 to P450.

The rate will further increase to 5 percent starting in 2025.

Among the co-authors are Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, Senior Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, and Tingog Party-list Reps. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and Jude Acidre.

Their proposed amendment states: “The President of the Philippines may, upon recommendation of the Philhealth board, suspend and adjust the period of implementation of the scheduled increase of premium rates during national emergencies or calamities, or when public interest so requires.”

It would be a new paragraph under Section 10 of the law.

In filing the amendatory bill, the Speaker and his four co-authors cited the objective of the Universal Health Care Act itself, which is to “ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to qualify and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.”

“The intent of the law is clear and cannot be overemphasized. Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost effective, high quality and responsive to the requirements of all citizens,” they said.

“While Philhealth only aims to fulfill and remain faithful to its mandate, imposing a higher premium on Filipinos in these current conditions where most of them are grappling with the pandemic will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” they added.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself has supported calls to defer this year’s increase in Philhealth premiums.
They noted that upon the President’s orders, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin has issued a memorandum suspending the adjustment and income ceiling for this year.