PhilHealth urged to halt premium contributions

PhilHealth urged to halt premium contributions

By Beatriz Marie D. Cruz, Reporter

A CONGRESSMAN wants to suspend premium contributions to state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to provide workers financial relief amid the agency’s excess funds.

Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said in House Resolution No. 1595 that suspending PhilHealth premium contributions would result in a P400 monthly wage increase for non-agricultural workers in the capital region.

“The unspent premium of PhilHealth can very well cover the premium contributions of minimum wage earners for at least a year,” Ms. Quimbo said in a statement.

Ms. Quimbo, who is also a senior vice chairperson of the House appropriations committee, said suspending premium contributions would offer financial relief to PhilHealth’s members.

She noted that PhilHealth had excess funds amounting to P39 billion out of the P79 billion Congress earmarked last year.

She added that the agency did not spend P24 billion despite its P80-billion subsidy in 2022 for the premium contributions of poor families, senior citizens, and persons with disability (PWD).

“The 2022 unspent appropriations for premium subsidies can be utilized to subsidize the employee share in premium contributions of minimum wage earners and the premium contributions of self-employed individuals earning minimum wage in 2024,” Ms. Quimbo said in the resolution.

Last week, she said that a legislated wage hike could fan inflation.

The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a P100 across-the-board wage increase for all private sector workers. Congressmen are also studying a proposed P350 to P400 wage hike.

Ms. Quimbo said the suspension of premium contribution would take effect until PhilHealth finalizes its contribution adjustments.

“This temporary suspension is not just about providing short-term economic relief but also about initiating a comprehensive review of PhilHealth’s benefits and contribution structure,” she said.

Last week, PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel R. Ledesma, Jr. told congressmen that the state insurer will increase its benefit package by 30% to cover half of patient-members’ hospital bills.