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PhilHealth contribution hike freeze a relief for members

The decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to suspend implementation this month of the scheduled increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) premium rate and income ceiling is a welcome development.

Coming at a time when we are still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it provides much needed relief, albeit temporary, for PhilHealth members who continue to deal with financial and medical challenges.

“In light of the prevailing socio-economic challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide financial relief to our countrymen amid these difficult times, please be informed that the President has directed the PhilHealth to suspend the above-mentioned increase in premium rate and income ceiling for Calendar Year 2023,” a PhilHealth statement said.

Without the suspension, PhilHealth premium rate is supposed to increase from 4 percent to 4.5 percent and the income ceiling from ₱80,000 to ₱90,000 this year as mandated by Section 10 of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act. The UHC law mandates a yearly increase in member’s premium by 0.5 percent starting in 2021 until it reaches the 5-percent limit in 2025.

Reacting to the suspension, PhilHealth said current benefits won’t be affected and will remain the same — an announcement that reassures members.

“Despite the suspension, PhilHealth operations will not be affected and will have no effect on the overall implementation of the National Health Insurance Program,” PhilHealth corporate communications manager Rey Balena said in a statement. “Even with the suspension, we want to assure the public that delivery of services will continue — no diminution of or cut in benefits.”

Welcoming the suspension of contribution increase, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said Congress was successful in pushing for a ₱79-billion allocation for PhilHealth, thus, he sees no reason why this would negatively impact the benefits and services that the state health insurance agency provides its members.

While the suspension of premium increase and income ceiling is a welcome development, members should temper their expectations.

The increase, being mandated by law, will eventually be collected sometime in the future much like the previous suspension.

While we rejoice now at the suspension, be ready to pay for the retroactive differential when time comes.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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