PhilHealth insists premium contributions necessary | Inquirer News
to sustain funds

PhilHealth insists premium contributions necessary

/ 05:42 AM September 09, 2023

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has directed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to hold off the increase of premium rate and income ceiling that was supposed to take effect this year, noting that Filipinos are still plagued by socioeconomic woes due to the pandemic. 

FILE PHOTO: Members line up at the counters of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth. INQUIRER FILES

An official of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Friday insisted that the collection of premium contributions from its members is necessary to sustain the state health insurer’s funds and continue its role of providing health benefit packages.

“Our position on this is we need to continue [the premium contributions] to sustain the funds so we can continue to expand and provide better services to our members,” PhilHealth spokesperson Israel Pargas told reporters.


He pointed out that charging monthly contributions is compulsory under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act and any plans to suspend such “should go through legislation.”


This is why there should be collection efficiency, added Pargas, as premium contributions from members as well as from the government make up the top funding streams of PhilHealth. The UHC also requires the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to remit a portion of their revenues to finance the enhancement of health benefit programs.

This was Pargas’ response when sought for comment to the suggestion of House appropriations panel senior vice chair Rep. Stella Quimbo during Wednesday’s budget deliberations in which she asked PhilHealth to consider suspending the payment of premium contributions.

Quimbo raised this after lawmakers learned that PhilHealth still has unpaid obligations amounting to P27 billion despite having a combined P534 billion in available funds—P466 billion in investible funds and another P68.4 billion in net income.

In explaining the current sum of funds in PhilHealth, Pargas on Friday said that the state insurer was also mandated to maintain a “reserve fund equivalent to two years of benefit expenditures.”

“If you heard that PhilHealth has enough money, this is because we are just abiding by the law,” he said, adding that the state insurer also is required to invest to augment its funds. However, in an interview on Friday, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said that collection of premium payments “may be paused,” considering the “huge amount of investments” PhilHealth has in its coffers.

“I’m amenable [to the suspension], but… I’m more amenable to the payment first of the unpaid obligations because that is the source of payments,” he told reporters.


To expedite the payment of the arrears to hospitals, the state insurer is looking at adopting a debit-credit payment method, which Pargas said was a “successful” mechanism in settling claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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TAGS: Philhealth, premium

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