Twenty-three (23) representatives from licensed manning agencies and land-based recruitment agencies recently joined the consultation session initiated by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on the proposed adjustment in premium contribution rates next year in line with program sustainability initiatives. The consultation was held at the PhilHealth Head Office in Pasig City.
The agencies represented were Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company of Manila Inc., Rensol Recruitment, UniPlan Overseas Employment, Global Connect Manpower, Association of Middle East Placement Agencies, Finest Asia Resources Inc., Gulf Asia Maritime International Corporation, Gulf Asia International Corp., Phi;ippine Association of Service Exporters Inc (PASEI), Anglo European Services Inc., ASC Global Recruitment, Career Planners, PhilAsia Human Resources, Concept Placement, Eastwest Placement Inc., JM International, NEVIKA Human Resources, Manpower Resources of Asia , Deltavir Overseas Job Placement and General Services Inc., Philippine Mnapower Agencies Accredited to Taiwan (PILMAT), Verdant Manpower, UNO Overseas Placement and Sunway Agency.
Rey T. Baleña, Senior Manager for the Formal Sector, emphasized during the discussion that the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) “...is guided by the principle of social solidarity,” which means that “...regardless of our status in life, religion, race, income etc., tayo po ay committed at magkakasama na sumusuporta sa ating NHIP because it is our program. Kailangan ng cost-sharing sa programa na dapat ay reasonable, sustainable at equitable dahil miyembro tayo lahat nito.”
Yolanda de Leon, Division Chief of the Office of Actuary presented the goals of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). She specified that in order to achieve UHC, there is a need to address three (3) dimensions namely the coverage rate, benefit coverage and support value.
As far as coverage rate is concerned, she said that PhilHealth’s current coverage is at 90 percent of the total population, hence there is still a remaining 10 percent that need to be covered to truly achieve universal coverage. To attain this, a special provision in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was included to cover the remaining 8-10 percent of the population and a joint circular with the Department of Budget and Management will soon be operationalized.
De Leon said that there is also a need to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC specifically on data sharing in order to capture the demographic and income information of Filipinos. A universal identification card (ID) or biometrics should also be put in place.
She added that part of the Philippine Health Agenda (PHA) is the coverage of the continuum of care of Filipinos, thus there is a need to expand and rationalize evidence-based pay-outs or the benefits covered by PhilHealth, and expand Primary Care coverage to other sectors.
When it comes to support value, she stated that a fixed co-pay for non-indigents should also be implemented, to increase its value from 43 to at least 70 percent.
Also discussed were the strategies to attain financial sustainability such as maximizing the use of sin tax revenues, improving the corporation’s collection efficiency, intensifying fraud detection, implementing enterprise architecture as well as increasing the contribution scheme by 2018.
Under the proposed scheme, the annual premium contribution of land-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) will be P3,600.00, a 50 percent adjustment from the existing P2,400. On the other hand, the sea-based OFWs who are classified under the Formal Sector, will have a 0.25 percent upward adjustment from its current contribution rate of 2.5 percent.
De Leon, however, emphasized that there had been no significant increase in the contribution scheme since 2014 with the rate of 2.5 percent remaining since NHIP’s inception in 1995.
Also presented is the gap between premium collections and the increasing benefit expenses. It was stressed that the increase of benefit payments for OFWs, in a way affected the financial condition of the Corporation because this sector exceeded the provision of benefits vis-a-vis the premium income.
The OFW land-based recruitment agencies recognized the current financial status of PhilHealth funds which may not be sustainable for the next 10 years if the state-run health insurance corporation maintains its status quo. However, some representatives aired their concerns such as the possibility of advance premium payment for at least five (5) years or depending on the length or duration of the employment contract. Others suggested that PhilHealth explore the possibility of a dialogue with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) since some recruitment agencies pay the initial one year premium contribution of OFWs. Other representatives inquired about PhilHealth’s benefits for hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. One of them inquired on the grace period for membership renewal, while a few suggested that family members of OFWs and the OFWs themselves must be reminded about the payment of premium three (3) months before the expiration of their PhilHealth coverage.
Also present to provide additional insights on the technical details of the proposed premium adjustment were Antonio Danao and Paulina Taguinod, Senior Social Insurance Officer, and Chief Social Insurance Officer, respectively, of the Overseas Filipinos Program Office. (END) (Emelita M. Retuta, photos by Jose Mari Sanvicente)
(Reference: Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas, Head Executive Assistant and Concurrent OIC-Vice President for Corporate Affairs Group, Cel No. 0917-8089399)