286K OFWs sign petition against 3% mandatory Philhealth premium
CEBU CITY, Philippines — While most dependents of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) miss financial assistance amid the enhanced community quarantine, the sector often dubbed as the “modern heroes” has slammed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) for its recent “reiteration” that overseas workers are obliged to pay health premiums equivalent to 3 percent of their monthly income.
As of 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, 2020, a petition in change.org for Philhealth to repeal the policy has already gained 286,492 signatures.
“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,” the petition reads.
One of those who signed the petition, a certain ‘Willie’ working in Doha, Qatar, said: “Our family was not included in any support from government and you want us to pay more? Enough. There is no deeper than hell. You cannot reach it.”
On April 22, Philhealth published in a national broadsheet and posted on Facebook its Cirucular no. 2020-0014 “to set clear guidelines on the implementation of the new set of premium contribution and its collection from payment for Overseas Filipinos.”
The policy, according to Philhealth, is stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law which President Duterte signed last February 2019.
“The Overseas Filipinos are classified as direct contributors under the UHC law and therefore, payment and remittance of premium contributions is mandatory,” reads the circular’s mandatory coverage clause.
Aside from the mandatory contribution, the OFWs’ petition also hit Philhealth’s policy of imposing a monthly compounded interest on top of their premiums in case of missed payments.
“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,” Section C of Circular 2020-0014 General Policy reads.
The policy, according to the OFWs’ petition, is “very unfair and inhumane.”
“It is very unfortunate that they call OFWs modern heroes and yet they penalize us with such directives. 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 added./dbs
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