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MANILA, Philippines – A key member of the House of Representatives appropriations committee has asked the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to strongly consider temporarily suspending the collection of premiums from its members.
House appropriations panel vice chairperson Stella Quimbo made the request during the chamber’s deliberations on the Department on Health (DOH) budget on Thursday, September 7.
“With PhilHealth earning a substantial net income, can the collection of premiums from us workers be suspended until you can show proof that you can effectively spend your funds?” Quimbo asked.
Quimbo, citing PhilHealth data, said the state health insurer earned P100 billion in net income in 2022, due to collections from direct contributors, government subsidy from sponsored programs, and investments.
Yet she lamented that PhilHealth members are better off using their deducted contributions for private Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), which offer better benefit packages than PhilHealth.
“[For example], a nurse pays PhilHealth P24,000 per year. Did you know how much their medical insurance plan would be upgraded if they use that money instead to pay for a MediCard?” Quimbo said, citing the HMO’s VIP plan, which includes free consultations, out-patient laboratory and diagnostics of up to P5,000, dental coverage, dreaded disease limit, additional limit for accidents, diamond peel, and yoga classes.
PhilHealth President Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. did not categorically say that suspending premium contributions would be feasible.
“When the reserve fund which is currently at P366 billion reaches P470 billion, we can either decrease contributions or increase benefit packages,” Ledesma said.
“You’ve been promising better benefit packages since you created PhilHealth in 1995, and we’re still waiting up to this day,” Quimbo said. She then asked Ledesma to submit a complete written explanation instead.
Earlier on Wednesday, Agri-Agra na Reporma sa Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (AGRI) Party Representative Wilbert Lee decried how some private hospitals were turning away indigent patients due to PhilHealth’s unpaid claims.
Ledesma promised that the health insurer would pay hospitals “majority, if not all” of the unpaid claims it owes them, amounting to P27 billion, in 90 days. – Rappler.com