Tell It to SunStar: PhilHealth premium increase bleeding us dry

WE STRONGLY condemn the huge increase of PhilHealth contribution imposed on all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that was approved by the Duterte government and the PhilHealth Board of Directors.

It is bleeding us dry. The recently released computation of annual PhilHealth contribution amounting from P2,400 to P9,360 this year is a huge amount of money we can supposedly send to our families for their daily needs, but this will never happen because PhilHealth is mandatory to all OFWs now.

Beginning on Dec. 7, 2019, OFWs’ premium contribution shall be computed based on their monthly income. As such, all OFWs are required to provide proof of their monthly income such as the employment contract and other pertinent documents. Newly hired OFWs will be required to pay P2,400 prior to their deployment abroad, while the balance must be paid in full after six months or in the next two quarters.

The policies the Duterte government enacted also killed Filipinos. Indeed, the Duterte government does not only make policies to extract money from OFWs, whether it is in the form of remittances or other new fees, but also to kill, kill, and kill. His government is killing the poor through war on illegal drugs; he is killing activists, human rights defenders and justice and peace advocates through his anti-insurgency campaign—Oplan Kapanatagan. He is killing families of OFWs through state exaction, therefore making our families unable to alleviate themselves from poverty through our hard-earned income abroad.

The mandatory health insurance premium requiring OFWs to pay their PhilHealth contribution is a Universal Health Care law (Republic Act 11223) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. The law prescribes certain reforms to bring world-class health care for all, provide incentive to Filipino health workers to stay home, instead of leaving for better-paying jobs abroad. However, according to health reform advocates, the UHC law is a money-making scheme, as it forces everyone to be a member of PhilHealth to avail themselves of the so-called universal health care. This creates more problems, as instead of allotting more funds to government hospitals and health centers to broaden the scope of their services and treat more patients, it is instead relying on PhilHealth, even when not all Filipinos can afford monthly contributions. (Dolores Balladares-Pelaex of Unifil-Migrante-HK)