Filcom leader blasts PhilHealth contribution hike
A Filipino community leader in Hong Kong slammed the decision of controversy-ridden Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to implement the scheduled increase in member contributions even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, called for the scrapping of the premium hike and mandatory membership amid allegations of corruption in the agency.
“Sa halip na paniningil sa mga OFWs ang atupagin nila, paliwanag muna na nila ang mga nawawalang pera ng PhilHealth, gaya ng 15 billion na na-corrupt, at walang nanagot sa mga korapsyon sa PhilHealth,” Balladares-Pelaez told Hong Kong News in a message.
[Translation: Instead of focusing on getting money from OFWs, they should first explain the money PhilHealth lost, like the P15-billion lost in corruption, and no one was held accountable for corrupt practices in PhilHealth.]
PhilHealth figured in several schemes that stirred fraud allegations in recent years. The agency was marred by a “ghost dialysis” scheme in 2019 where dialysis centres claimed payments for patients who did not go under dialysis or who have already died.
In August, former PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Ricardo Morales stepped down amid Congress hearings on anomalies within the state health insurance agency. Among the irregularities brought up were the presence of a ‘mafia’ stealing some P15-billion through fraud acts, requiring OFWs to pay before their Overseas Employment Certificates will be issued, and a “fake receipts” scheme leading to 500,000 migrant Filipino workers losing health insurance coverage.
“Kung walang naco-corrupt na pera, hindi problema ang pera. Kung kulang, government should give more budget, lalo sa pangkalusugan,” Balladares-Pelaez added.
[Translation: If funds were not used in corruption, then the funding shouldn’t be a problem. And if there is a lack of funds, the government should give more budget especially when it concerns health.]
The new PhilHealth CEO, Atty. Dante Gierran, said in a statement Tuesday that the premium adjustments will push through as is required under the Universal Health Care Law. The law will increase contributions by 0.5% of a person’s salary per year until the cumulative increase hits 5% by 2025.
Gierran said the contribution hike will ensure “sufficient funding” for healthcare benefits under the UHC.
For 2021, those earning below P10,000 will have a monthly PhilHealth premium of P350. Those earning P70,000 or higher will pay a fixed premium of P2,450 per month.
Contributions of employed members are shared among employees and employers. But for self-paying members, professional practitioners, and land-based migrant workers, the contribution will be paid in full by the member based on their monthly earnings.
Amid outcry from overseas workers being charged with higher premiums, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the contribution hike in 2020 for the duration of the pandemic.