Thousands of people have signed a petition to junk PhilHealth's mandatory premium payment for OFWs.
PHOTO BY PHILHEALTH
DUBAI – Nearly 30,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the removal of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) mandatory 3 percent premium payment from the monthly salaries of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) members.
The petition on Change.Org has amassed 29,581 signatories as of 10:50pm on Tuesday (April 28). It stems from a recently published PhilHealth circular making it mandatory for OFWs to pay a monthly membership premium equivalent to 3 percent of their salary.
According to the circular published on PhilHealth’s official Facebook account on April 22, 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.
The circular was signed by Philhealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales in April.
Faith Ruth Villanueva, one of those who signed the petition, described it as “burdensome”. Villanueva told Expatmedia.net that if she were to make the monthly payments, it would amount to more than P2,000 per month based on her current salary as an expat teacher in Laos.
The petition says “OFWs and our dependents have been already struggling amidst this pandemic and yet PhilHealth had issued a very unfair memo regarding premium payments”.
“It is very unfortunate that they call OFWs modern heroes and yet they penalize us with such directives,” the petition continued, urging PhilHealth to reverse the directive for being “unfair and an abuse to our migrant workers.”
Carlo Yarcia, criticized PhilHealth for imposing a “heavy burden to all OFWs” and called on the agency to “stop using overseas workers as a milking cow”.
“I am willing to pay P2,400 per year but not 3 percent of my salary monthly for 12 months!” James Cipriano wrote on the online petition.
Dubai-based OFW Christine A. told Expatmedia.net that the monthly premium payments “are exorbitant, considering that many OFWs end up not using PhilHealth benefits while abroad most of the time”. Expatmedia.net reached out to PhilHealth for comment but did not get a reply as of this publication.
According to PhilHealth, the circular is aimed at setting “clear guidelines on implementation of new set of premium contribution and collection of payment from Overseas Filipinos”.
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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