PhilHealth premium hike halted in 2023
Citing “socioeconomic challenges,” Malacañang on Monday announced the suspension of the scheduled hike in premiums of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) from 4 percent to 4.5 percent that would have seen the lowest-earning members pay P50 more on top of their P400 monthly contribution.
A memorandum from the Office of the President, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and shared with reporters on Monday, also deferred the raising of the income ceiling of members paying the highest contribution from P80,000 to P90,000 in 2023.
Under the Universal Health Care Act, the state-run insurer is supposed to raise members’ premiums by 0.5 percent every year, starting in 2021, until it reaches the 5-percent limit in 2025.
Flat rate of P3,200
At present, the 4-percent premium ranges from P400 for the bottom earners to a flat P3,200 for those earning P80,000 a month and above.
This year, that income threshold was supposed to have gone up to P90,000.
“In light of the prevailing socioeconomic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide financial relief to our countrymen amidst 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, subject to applicable laws, rules and regulations,” the memorandum read.
The memo was addressed to Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer in charge of the Department of Health and concurrent PhilHealth board chair, as well as to PhilHealth’s acting president and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma Jr.
Bersamin’s memo did not mention the duration of the suspension of the premium rate increase.
PhilHealth earlier argued that the slight increase in premium would have helped the government insurer to sustain the level of benefits currently enjoyed by its members.
The health insurer had wanted to use the additional contributions for the expansion of its primary care benefit package.
More members’ benefits
That would cover benefits such as free health risk screening, laboratory tests and medicines, PhilHealth’s corporate communications senior manager Rey Balena told a Laging Handa briefing in December.
“The guarantee of the universal health care law is that the benefits will not regress, but just continue to expand and improve,” Balena said.
In 2021, Mr. Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, also postponed the increase in PhilHealth contributions in response to members’ financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. INQ