Friday the 13th “We don’t need another ‘bad luck’” – OFWs on 150% hike on Philhealth premium

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families Migrante International views the recent 150% hike in Philhealth premium as “another stroke of bad luck that OFWs can do without this new year.”

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth Board recently issued Circular No. 022 imposing a 150% hike in premium fees to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). The hike will be effective on July 2012 and will affect all members and enrollees of Philhealth, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

According to Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, for OFWs, the health premium will increase from P900 to P2,400 annually. It is expected to cover all agency-new hires as the Philhealth is a requirement for the Overseas Employment Contract, and overseas professionals.

“We are angered by this most recent fee imposition especially in light of the present global and local economic crisis, budget cuts on direct OFW services and other questionable onerous fees and hikes that are being imposed on OFWs without proper consultation with the sector and other stakeholders,” he said. The migrant group staged a picket protest in front of the Philhealth main office in Pasay today.

Martinez also said that they are also keenly studying allegations that the Philhealth premium may also be a direct violation of Republic Act 8042, as amended by RA 10022, which prohibits increases in government fees for services rendered to OFWs and their dependents.

The migrant leader said that aside from being an unjustified and arbitrary state exaction, the Philhealth premium “speaks volumes on the Aquino administration’s overall economic program in the next years”.

“As we see it, in lieu of implementing direct taxation on the people which are immediately and easily opposed by the public, the government is now resorting to schemes that intend to earn direct revenue from the people through fee hikes and impositions on government services and by GOCC’s like the Philhealth,” Martinez said.

Aside from Philhealth, the Social Security System (SSS) is also proposing a hike in premium fees, while contributions to Pag-Ibig had been made mandatory for OFWs since last year. “Bagong taon, dagdag-pasakit, dagdag-pahirap ito. Another scheme that legalizes kotong on OFWs and the people.”

Martinez refuted claims by the government that the recent Philhealth premium hike is for the thrust to “attain Universal Health Care”. “Health care should be free. This most recent hike only illustrates how greedy for profit the government is. Meanwhile, Philhealth services for OFWs have been dismal, unreliable, and in some cases, non-existent for our OFWs.”

Migrante International had launched an online petition campaign to oppose the premium hike. Migrante International chapters in Middle East, Hong Kong and Italy are already gearing for actions and rallies in their respective countries to protest the hike.###

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