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PhilHealth ordered to allow voluntary premium payments for OFWs



President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to implement the voluntary paying of premium by overseas Filipino workers (OFW), Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that Duterte made this directive after OFW groups criticized PhilHealth's move to increase by .25 percent the premium contribution of OFWs starting this year.

“Nag-issue ng direktiba ang ating Presidente sa PhilHealth para gawing boluntaryo po ang pagbabayad ng mga OFWs ng PhilHealth premiums (The President issued a directive to PhilHealth to make voluntary the paying of premiums by OFWs),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

As OFWs continue to struggle with the impact of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Roque said Duterte made this decision in order to ease their burden.


“Habang meron tayong krisis, ang naging desisyon ng ating Presidente ‘wag na muna tayo magpataw ng karagdagang pahirap sa ating mga OFWs lalung-lalo na sa panahon na napakadami sa kanila ang nare-repatriate at nawalan na rin ng trabaho (While there is an ongoing crisis, the President decided not to implement additional burden to our OFWs especially since many of them are getting repatriated and losing their jobs),” he said.

Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque has also suspended an item in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law which increases OFWs’ mandatory contribution.

He said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will no longer require OFWs to pay higher contribution rates before being issued with an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

OFWs who fail to pay their PhilHealth premium contributions will still receive their benefits, he added.

“Nakasaad po sa batas na ating sinulong na kapag hindi nakapagbayad ng premiums, hindi po ‘yan dahilan para mawalan ng benepisyo. So, kahit na anong mangyari po, sagot po tayo ng estado dahil alinsunod po ito sa obligasyon ng estado na magbigay ng karapatan ng kalusugan sa lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino (It’s stated in the law we pushed for that if OFWs fail to pay their premiums, it won’t be a reason for them to lose their benefits. So, whatever happens, the state will take care of them because it is part of the obligation of the state to provide Filipinos with quality health services),” he said.As OFWs continue to struggle with the impact of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Roque said Duterte made this decision in order to ease their burden.

“Habang meron tayong krisis, ang naging desisyon ng ating Presidente ‘wag na muna tayo magpataw ng karagdagang pahirap sa ating mga OFWs lalung-lalo na sa panahon na napakadami sa kanila ang nare-repatriate at nawalan na rin ng trabaho (While there is an ongoing crisis, the President decided not to implement additional burden to our OFWs especially since many of them are getting repatriated and losing their jobs),” he said.

Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque has also suspended an item in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law which increases OFWs’ mandatory contribution.

He said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will no longer require OFWs to pay higher contribution rates before being issued with an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

OFWs who fail to pay their PhilHealth premium contributions will still receive their benefits, he added.

“Nakasaad po sa batas na ating sinulong na kapag hindi nakapagbayad ng premiums, hindi po ‘yan dahilan para mawalan ng benepisyo. So, kahit na anong mangyari po, sagot po tayo ng estado dahil alinsunod po ito sa obligasyon ng estado na magbigay ng karapatan ng kalusugan sa lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino (It’s stated in the law we pushed for that if OFWs fail to pay their premiums, it won’t be a reason for them to lose their benefits. So, whatever happens, the state will take care of them because it is part of the obligation of the state to provide Filipinos with quality health services),” he said.