Reacting to criticisms for the premium adjustment for its members working abroad, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) maintained that the move is appropriate and has been decided upon with the best interest of overseas workers and their families in mind.
The move, which is contained in its Circular 25, s-2013, adjusts the contribution rate from P1,200 to 2,400 annually starting January 1, 2014 to rationalize its contribution structure with the rest of members from different categories.
"There is a need to adjust given that the annual premium for every indigent family is already pegged at P2,400. With such gainful employment status, it is but proper that their contribution rate should at least approximate the rate for indigents", said Chona S. Yap, PhilHealth Manager for Overseas Filipino Program.
The state-run health insurance agency has also pegged the contribution for its informal sector members at P2,400 for those earning below P25,000 per month. For those with monthly income of above P25,000, the rate is at P3,600.
"The new rate for OFWs translates to just P6.70 per day, which clearly shows that they are still paying a very minimal amount and is comparable to indigents and informal sector members such as vendors, public transport workers, and the like", Yap explained.
PhilHealth further explained that the move has been openly discussed for years now with key stakeholders, especially migrant worker groups. "We have actively brought the issue with all players and affected sectors and even decided to phase-in its implementation starting this year in response to their calls for deferment", she further clarified.
In addition, PhilHealth said that premium adjustments are called for to be able to sustain and continuously improve the level of financial protection being afforded its members. In the last three years alone, it enhanced its benefits and introduced substantial payments for medically catastrophic and economically draining procedures under its Z Package which include childhood leukemia, heart surgeries, kidney transplants, lower limb prosthesis, among others, without increasing its premium rates.
The agency is also moving towards shifting its payment mechanism from the traditional fee-for-service (payment per unit of service rendered) to case-based in order to contain costs, rationalize services, and ensure adequate care.
In a separate statement, PhilHealth President and CEO Alexander A. Padilla announced that they are expecting benefit payouts for 2013 to reach P62 B, citing the increase in benefits as well as the expanding population coverage. END
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