THE House of Representatives passed on third and final reading last Tuesday a bill granting the President the power to suspend and adjust the period of implementation of the scheduled increase of premium rates for direct contributors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, the principal author of House Bill 6772, said the suspension of the increase would result in some savings for millions of government and private sector workers, professionals, self-employed and other PhilHealth contributors who are still recovering from the economic scarring of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bill was approved by 276 lawmakers and without opposition.
Romualdez said they believe daily wage earners and many employees, who comprise the majority of Philhealth members, would save at least P50 (less than a dollar) a month or P600 a year from their health insurance premium payment if the adjustment were suspended.
Those earning more will naturally save more, he added.
Under Republic Act (RA) 11223 (Universal Health Care Law), contributions will increase from 4 percent last year to 4.5 percent this year, or from the minimum monthly premium of P400 to P450. The rate will further go up to 5 percent starting next year.
The bill seeks to amend RA 11223, which was enacted in 2018.
Under the measure, the President of the Philippines may, upon recommendation of the PhilHealth board, suspend and adjust the period of implementation of the scheduled increase of premium rates during national emergencies or calamities, or when public interest so requires.
The amendment would be a new paragraph under Section 10 of the law.
Based on PhilHealth’s computation for this year, those earning P10,000 and below would pay a premium of P450. Those with an income of more than P10,000 up to P89,999.99 would contribute P450 to P4,050. Meanwhile, those making P90,000 or more would chip in P4,050.
The Speaker and his colleagues said that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has supported calls to defer this year’s increase in PhilHealth premiums.
RA 11223 defines “direct contributors” as “those who have the capacity to pay premiums, are gainfully employed and are bound by an employer-employee relationship, or are self-earning, professional practitioners, migrant workers, including their qualified dependents and lifetime members.”
The term “indirect contributors” refers to “all others not included as direct contributors, as well as their qualified dependents, whose premium shall be subsidized by the national government including those who are subsidized as a result of special laws.”
Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila