Senate mulls approval of bills to defer PhilHealth premium hike by Feb. 14

Senate mulls approval of bills to defer PhilHealth premium hike by Feb. 14

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Wednesday the upper chamber is mulling to approve measures seeking to defer the increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) premium contributions before February 14.

Zubiri said the bills filed by several senators on the suspension of PhilHealth contribution hike will be prioritized and referred by the Senate committee on rules for immediate action.

“Once the committee report is done we can finish in plenary within two to three weeks of debate and amendments. I’m looking at passing this hopefully before Valentines to give our people the welcome respite they need during this financially difficult period in their lives,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“I believe this will have bipartisan support as no one would want to give an additional burden to our people during this extremely difficult time of the pandemic were jobs have been either scarce or lost all together,” he added.

Zubiri, however, clarified that the deferment of PhilHealth’s increased collections only covers times of calamity and the pandemic.

“[The policy] would resume once the situation normalizes and the economy goes back on track so the agency can resume providing a no balance billing policy of the Universal Health Care Law which entails are large amount of financial reserves to implement,” Zubiri said.

“But as of now, let’s put our people’s interest front and center as we await the entry of the badly needed vaccines that can help protect our people from covid and get our economy back to normal,” he added.

Zubiri, as well as Senators Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Nancy Binay, Win Gatchalian, and Sonny Angara, filed Senate Bill No. 1968 which seeks to amend the the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act in a move to .

Senator Richard Gordon likewise filed Senate Bill No. 1971 which authorizes the deferment of the premium contributions hike in times of emergencies and calamities.

Gordon’s bill gives the President the power to temporarily suspend or defer the implementation of increases in PhilHealth premium contributions in times of a declared national emergency or state of calamity, within a period of not more than six months.

This, however, can still be extended to another six months as may be appropriate and necessary in the interest of the public, Gordon’s bill states.

Senator Imee Marcos has also filed Senate Bill No. 1966 which also suspends the scheduled contribution increase for this year.

Republic Act No. 11223 or the UHC Act mandates increases in member premiums by increments of 0.5 percent every year, starting 2021 until it reaches the 5-percent limit in 2025.

For 2021, the premium rate is scheduled to increase to 3.5 percent of the monthly basic salary, from the 2020 rate of 3 percent.