Mandatory Philhealth contributions ‘too oppressive’ for OFWS

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople wants to revisit the mandatory contribution of overseas Filipino workers on Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), saying the policy is “too oppressive.”

“Bago pa ko nanumpa nag-flag na ako na (Before I took my oath of office, I was already flagged that) this is a sensitive issue among the OFWs,” Ople said in the latest episode of The Mangahas Interviews.

“Sabi ko nga it’s too oppressive. Sa tingin ko, it needs to be revisited kasi karamihan sa mga OFWs may kaniya-kaniya nang insurance,” she added.

(As I have said, it’s too oppressive. I think it needs to be revisited because most OFWs already have their own insurance plans.)

In 2019, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Act to guarantee all Filipinos will receive equal access to quality and affordable goods and services in healthcare.

OFWs are required to have Philhealth membership under the measure, as they are classified as “direct contributors” of the UHC Law. Duterte ordered the suspension of the policy in 2020.

In May, the state-run insurer announced it is set to begin the implementation of the mandatory coverage along with the collection of the higher premium contribution to all members after its scheduled annual increment was suspended in January 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For her part, Ople said she had already discussed the OFW’s plight with Senator JV Ejercito, author of UHC, and they both agreed that the law has to be amended.

“We’re just waiting kung sino ang ma-appoint as Philhealth head and sino ang maa-appoint as Health secretary but nag-usap na kami ni Sen. JV (who will be appointed as Philhealth head and Health secretary but Sen. JV and I already talked) and we both agreed there has to be an amendment on the law,” she said.

“Our hands are tied kasi sa Universal Healthcare Act nakapaloob itong mandatory fee na naka-peg sa salary ng OFWs na mayroong compounded monthly interest as penalty,” she said.

(Our hands are tied because this is included in the UHC Act. The mandatory fee was pegged on the salary of the OFWs and has compounded monthly interest as a penalty.)—AOL, GMA News

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