Robes seeks suspension of hiked Philhealth premiums

A House leader on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the implementation of an increased contribution to all Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) members, including doctors and other health professionals, given the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes filed House Resolution (HR) No. 862 to give reprieve to PhilHealth members in view of the economic challenges created by the public health emergency.

“(I) appeal (to President Duterte) and Philhealth to suspend the implementation of Philhealth Circular No. 2019-0009 which took effect 7 December 2019 increasing the contribution of premium members, including doctors and health workers, in view of the economic challenges  created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Robes stated in her resolution.

In accordance with Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, Philhealth issued Circular No. 2019-0009 which increased the rate of Direct Contributors 3 percent of their monthly basic salary starting 2020 and every year thereafter, adjusted to increments of 0.5% every year until it reaches the 5% limit in 2025 as provided for by law. Income floor is fixed at P10,000 during the 5-year period, while salary ceiling will gradually increase by P10,000 each year until it reaches P100,000 in 2025.

As a result of the increase in premium contribution, health care professionals, including those working in the provinces, have to shell out at least P60,000.00 to P100,000.00 to get their Philhealth accreditation.

But doctors and other health professionals have expressed their difficulties of paying for their accreditation because of the physical and economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The Philippine Medical Association had said that the new rates are unduly burdening their members especially those in the provinces who just earn average income.

“Doctors are extremely burdened by this increase because they are also imposed at least a five (5) percent withholding tax rate from their professional fees. On top of the increased accreditation fees and tax burden, doctors are left at the mercy of Philhealth which sometimes denies their claims or oftentimes delays the remittance of their entitlements,” Robes said.

She added, “in this difficult period, our healthcare workers are touted to be our true heroes because they risk their lives and that of their families in order to save lives. As a society, it is high time we should try to repay their unparalleled service to the country and humanity by making sure that they are not subjected to more unwarranted burdens.”

Robes further stated that since the Covid-19 pandemic has affected not just health workers but every Filipino, the suspension of the implementation of the increase of premium contribution for all members is warranted until this health crisis has passed.