PhilHealth premium rate hike may spawn more undocumented OFWs: Ople
MANILA — More overseas Filipino workers may resort to leaving the country illegally if they are forced to pay higher premiums by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., an advocate warned Tuesday.
The implementing rules and regulations of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act replaced OFWs' fixed premium annual rate of P2,400 with an income-based rate.
This means that migrant workers earning about P20,000 will have to pay P6,000 next year, which would increase annually until it reaches about P12,000 in 2024, said OFW advocate Susan Ople.
The IRR, she said, also tasked the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to help collect premiums, which could mean that OFWs who would fail to pay might not get overseas employment certificates, a requirement for working abroad.
"Maganda iyong layunin ng batas, pero kailangan bang singilin mo ng ganyan kalaki? E ilang taon bago pa mareporma iyong healthcare system," Ople told radio DZMM.
(The goal of the law is good, but do you need to immediately charge such a large amount? It would be a few years before you could reform the health care system.)
"Baka naman mamaya, mas marami na namang lumabas bilang turista at magtrabaho abroad kaysa dumaan sa legal na channels through the POEA para lang hindi sila mag-upfront ng napakaraming binabayaran," she added.
(This may push more OFWs to leave the country as tourists and work abroad clandestinely instead of passing legal channels through the POEA just so they could avoid paying so many fees upfront.)
PhilHealth, she added, has faced various controversies, undermining capacity to implement the UHC law, which aims to give all Filipinos affordable health services.
The state insurance corporation has been hounded with allegations of fraudulent claims and the supposed presence of a mafia among its members.
DZMM, October 15, 2019