Philippine president suspends overseas workers health premium charge

After receiving flak from thousands of overseas Filipino workers including Oman, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of the Philhealth premium which seeks to raise collection for the country’s universal healthcare to 3 percent this year.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, in a televised press briefing held early this morning, said, “While we are facing a crisis, the President decided not to impose an additional burden on OFWs for now, especially at a time when so many of them have been repatriated and have lost their jobs.”

Roque has added that OFW membership can be “voluntary” for now.

Roque also said that that the higher premium rates “have been acted upon swiftly by the Health Secretary, who suspended the increased collections for Philhealth.”

Issued last month and has taken effect April 22, Philhealth Circular 2020-014 saw the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law in the Philippines requiring overseas workers to pay 3 percent this year, up from last year’s 2.75 and will see the mandatory contribution to increase by 0.05 percent yearly and finally peaking at 5% by 2024.

While OFWs in Oman welcome the news, many still clamor for the law to be abolished or amended so that it becomes fair to OFWs who are also living challenging lives abroad.

“The halt to the collection is just temporary due to the pandemic. They have not totally removed the 3% mandatory (contribution) which is why we need to see that the law is legally revised. I am hoping they will remove this permanently,” a kabayan posting on one of the major Filipino online groups in Oman has said.