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At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

PHOTO BY ARCHIVE


Mandatory Philhealth contributions for OFWs ‘too oppressive’: Ople

The mandatory Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) contribution of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) needs to be reviewed, according to Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople.

In a recent interview, Ople said she was already “flagged” that the matter on the mandatory Philhealth contribution is “a sensitive issue among the OFWs”. “As I have said, it’s too oppressive. I think it needs to be revisited because most OFWs already have their own insurance plans,” she said in Filipino.

Many OFWs, including several from Dubai, have reported paying thousands of pesos for their mandatory Philhealth contribution on their latest visit to the Philippines this year.

ALSO READ: Thousands sign petition to scrap mandatory Philhealth payment

“The mandatory fee was pegged on the salary of the OFWs and has compounded monthly interest as a penalty,” Ople explained in Filipino.

In 2019, the government implemented the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Act. Under the measure, OFWs are required to have Philhealth membership as “direct contributors” to the UHC.

According to Philhealth, OFWs will need to declare and show proof of their monthly salaries and make a 3 percent payment towards their PhilHealth membership every month based on their salary. Those who miss a payment will be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest.

In 2020, then president Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the policy. However, in May 2022, Philhealth announced it was set to begin the implementation of mandatory coverage along with the collection of higher premium contribution from all members.

Ople said she has already discussed OFW’s issue with PhilHealth with Senator JV Ejercito, who authored the UHC, and that they both agreed that the law needs to be amended.

Ople said she and Ejercito are just waiting for the appointment of new heads of Philhealth and the Department of Health.

What is it all about?

According to PhilHealth, the new directive covers all overseas Filipinos working and living abroad, including seafarers, Filipinos with dual citizenship, and even OFWs in distress or undocumented Filipinos.

According to PhilHealth, the “premium of overseas Filipinos shall be computed based on their monthly income to be paid in Philippine peso equivalent”. Members have the option to pay the annual premium in full or pay an initial premium of P2,400 and quarterly payments thereafter within 2020.

By January 1, 2021, PhilHealth said that the minimum initial payment will be equivalent to a 3-month premium. Members will have the option to pay in full or make quarterly payments within one year. Seafarers will have their monthly payments deducted from their salaries. ICA/Expat Media

 


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