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OFW-members and dependents not deprived of benefits----PhilHealth July 4, 2012

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) today denied having deprived overseas Filipino worker-members and their legal dependents of their benefits due to the alleged slow encoding services at its satellite office at the POEA in Mandaluyong City.

"We would like to correct the impression that 250,000 OFWs are being deprived of their benefits because of our encoding services. While there might indeed be backlogs in the number of membership applications that have to be encoded, the number is way smaller than the figure they posted," said PhilHealth President and CEO Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon.

He added that the rising number of membership applications and requests for renewal of coverage is brought about by the increasing membership, but he assured the OFW members that the availment of their PhilHealth benefits "have not been stopped nor compromised. We assure all our OFW-members that they have been and will continue to be covered by PhilHealth," Banzon said.

The PhilHealth Chief also added that the government corporation has undertaken measures to help speed up the processing of the application records. "We have increased the number of encoders and our staffmembers are working overtime to fasttrack processing. Enhancements are also being done on our existing IT systems," he stressed.

Addressing the issue on the forthcoming increase in premium contribution rate for OFWs which takes effect on January 1, 2013, Banzon emphasized that since the agency took over the Medicare functions for OFWs in 2005, "we have not had an adjustment in the premium contribution rate for OFW-members. It is only this year that an adjustment is being made to enable us to fund the new set of benefit packages that we are introducing to our members, including OFWs. Better packages mean that we'll be able to protect OFWs, especially their families, more from catastrophic health spending."

To make sure that the premium increase will not burden the OFWs as they depart for their destinations overseas, Banzon said that "they have the option to pay only part of the annual premium of P1,200.00." Currently, the minimum required premium is P900.00 but PhilHealth is currently studying if the amount can still be lowered.(END)

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