Mental health aid, medical consultations affected by PhilHealth rate hike deferment

Bonz Magsambol

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Mental health aid, medical consultations affected by PhilHealth rate hike deferment
These programs will still be implemented but with some adjustments, says PhilHealth senior manager for corporate communications Rey Baleña

MANILA, Philippines – While the deferment of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation rate hike is welcome news for its members, some programs of the agency will be affected by the move, a PhilHealth official said on Wednesday, January 4.

Mental health aid, medical consultations affected by PhilHealth rate hike deferment

In an interview with ANC’s HeadStart on Wednesday, PhilHealth senior manager for corporate communications Rey Baleña said that aid for mental health, therapeutic care for malnutrition, and healthcare consultations would need to be adjusted following the deferred rate hike.

“The new benefits – following our benefit plan – might be affected in terms of implementation. These new benefits, just like our outpatient benefit for mental health and the outpatient therapeutic care for severe-acute malnutrition, which are both due for rollout this year, will continue to be implemented but with some adjustments,” Baleña said.

Aside from this, the PhilHealth official said that their Konsulta Benefit Package will also need to be adjusted.

“Perhaps we will just be adjusting on the percentage of the population that will be initially covered by this but definitely, the Konsulta program will push through,” he said.

The Konsulta Benefit Package is a PhilHealth program where members are assigned to an accredited medical provider that will check and take care of their health needs through consultations.

On Monday, January 2, Malacañang confirmed a memorandum of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. deferring the scheduled increase in the monthly contribution of PhilHealth members.

In the memo, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin wrote to PhilHealth and the Department of Health on the suspension of the scheduled increase of the premium rate and income ceiling for 2023.

Bersamin said the President made the decision “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.”

Before the issuance of the Malacañang memorandum, PhilHealth’s premium rate was expected to go up from 4% to 4.5% in 2023. The income ceiling was also supposed to increase from P80,000 to P90,000. 

Under the Universal Health Care law, premium rates shall gradually increase from 2.75% in 2019 to 5% for 2024 and 2025.

The Duterte administration suspended the rate hike in January 2021 also due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but soon resumed the increase in monthly contributions.

Baleña said that the PhilHealth board will meet on Wednesday to discuss the adjustments that the state health insurer would need to do in light of the President’s order. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.