More than 380,000 individuals have signed in the online petition to scrap the new OFW Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) contribution rate, which was implemented in April 2020.
The change.org petition “Remove PhilHealth Mandatory 3% Payment from OFW’s Salary” now has more than 380,000 and counting signatures as of this posting.
“We urge the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) to reverse this directive as this is unfair and an abuse to our migrant workers,” the petition said.
“I believe that we OFWs and our dependents have been already struggling amidst this Pandemic, and yet Philhealth had issued a very unfair memo regarding premium payments,” it added.
Philhealth issued a circular entitled “Premium Contribution and Collection of Payment of Overseas Filipino Members” addressed to all Filipinos abroad, and their dependents accredited collecting agents, partners, stakeholders, and all others concerned.
The increased Philhealth contribution rates cover land-based OFWs, seafarers and other sea-based workers, Filipinos with dual citizenship (RA 9225), Filipinos living abroad, Overseas Filipinos in distress, and other overseas Filipinos not previously classified elsewhere.
The circular states that for OFWs with monthly salaries between P10,000 and P60,000, their monthly PhilHealth contribution will be 3% of their salaries, up from 2.75% in 2019.
The monthly premium will increase by 0.5 percentage points every year afterward until it reaches 5% by 2024.
OFWs are classified as direct contributors under the Universal Health Care Law, and therefore, payment and remittance of premium contributions are mandatory, the circular stated.
A member who fails to pay the premium after the due date set by the Corporation shall be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest.
Petition to scrap new OFW Philhealth contribution
The petition said the interest rate and the penalty is “very unfair and inhumane for those who travel away from their families to work.”
“It is very unfortunate that they call OFWs modern heroes, and yet they penalize us with such directives,” it added.
Over 100 Filipino migrant groups across the globe also oppose the increased premium. They said the new rate “overburdens OFWs who are already troubled by retrenchments and loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.”
They also said many OFWs “are not even covered” by the national government’s social amelioration program.
The OFWs also pointed out that they are “already covered by existing insurance and healthcare programs in their host countries” and that regular PhilHealth contributions are already part of requirements to get an overseas employment certificate (OEC).
The petitioners demanded to stop the mandatory Philhealth premium exaction, enforce a “moratorium on all state exactions” during the COVID-19 crises, remove punitive penalties, and scrap the OEC.