REP. LAWRENCE “LAW” H. FORTUN
Agusan del Norte 1st District
Member for the Minority – Justice, Human Rights, and 14 other Committees
A lawyer by profession | Mobile number 09177292437
Bangko Sentral, DoF should help PhilHealth find ways to fund OFWs health insurance
PHILHEALTH CIRCULAR IS GROSSLY FLAWED, MUST BE REPLACED
The legislative policy of including migrant workers among direct contributors is basically sound. Only the OFWs who choose to make direct contributions are covered as directly contributing members. If the OFW does not choose to register with PhilHealth then he or she will not have any PhilHealth deductions.
However, I have a serious critique of the one-size-fits-all means by which PhilHealth has chosen to implement through its memorandum circular.
First, the approved rates are high. These are rates for the documented OFWs. P2,400 as an initial pre-departure payment is high considering that most OFWs are on survival mode basis, especially now during the COVID-19 quarantine measures. The OFW will always translate the annual premiums into cash that could have gone directly to their dependents, instead of being forced savings in terms of PhilHealth coverage for future health needs.
PhilHealth must recompute the schedule of contributions for OFWs so that its affordability will encourage registration and contributions. A pre-departure registration fee of perhaps P500 would be much more agreeable than a hefty P2,400 payment. The payment of the balance must also be spread out more thinly to make the contributions affordable.
Second, the PhilHealth Circular failed to stress the importance of PhilHealth coverage for their dependents here in the Philippines as their beneficiaries. PhilHealth must correct this major lapse. The PhilHealth contributions are not just for the OFW himself or herself, but also for the dependents.
Third, the PhilHealth circular also fails to consider that not all OFWs may be getting health insurance coverage in their host countries for various reasons. Yes, some OFWs have health insurance overseas, but not all of them and perhaps more are not covered than those covered.
Fourth, the PhilHealth circular has the problems, not the law enacted by the 17th Congress. The actuarians of PhilHealth should recompute and keep in mind that the numbers they crunch represent lives of human beings, not inanimate objects.
Fifth, the COVID-19 crisis is sufficient reason for OFWs to suspend or delay their payment. The PhilHealth advisory on payment delays also applies to OFWs.
Sixth, PhilHealth should seek the technical assistance of the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on creative ways to implement.
I ask the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to help out PhilHealth considering that billions of dollars in remittances are supporting the country’s economy. (END)