PhilHealth

Duterte wants deferment of PhilHealth contribution hike

Pia Ranada
(UPDATED) The President cites the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as reason to temporarily suspend the scheduled contribution hike

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told Cabinet members he wants a deferment in the scheduled increase this year in contributions of Filipinos to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Duterte made his position known during a meeting with coronavirus task force officials on Monday, January 4, in Davao City.

“May I just suggest to the Philhealth [CEO], si Dante Gierran at sa lahat na (and to everyone there)… Huwag muna ngayon (Not at this time). No increase in contributions. I will look for the money to fill it up,” he said in remarks aired after the meeting.

The President cited the coronavirus pandemic as his reason for asking for a deferment of the higher payments. The COVID-19 health crisis left millions of Filipinos jobless or with reduced income after lockdowns closed down or crippled businesses.

“Anyway that is the job of the government, to make it easy for everybody at this time, I said, of our lives,” said Duterte.

Amendment to law necessary

Earlier on Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is also PhilHealth chairman, said that deferring the premium contributions hike requires an amendment of the UHC law, which is something only Congress can do.

This is because it’s the UHC law that lays out the schedule of contribution hikes, including the hike this year to 3.5% of a person’s salary, compared to only 3% last year.

Those earning below P10,000 per month is fixed at P350, while those earning P70,000 or higher per month is fixed at P2,450, said PhilHealth.

The scheduled increase in contributions is meant to “ensure sufficient funding” for the healthcare benefits of all Filipinos, according to the state health insurer.

Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Michael Defensor on Sunday, January 3, floated the possibility that Congress could pass a joint resolution that would ask for a six-month deferment. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.