May 4, 2020
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center urged the leadership of the Senate and House of Representative to pass a joint resolution indefinitely suspending the hike in PhilHealth premium contributions of overseas Filipinos and migrant workers.
The policy center noted that the moratorium declared by PhilHealth is a step in the right direction but still causes anxiety among OFWs.
“The declaration of a moratorium was announced only through media interviews. This should be done through the appropriate memorandum circular and should clearly state that PhilHealth will not collect on any missed contributions of OFWs with a 1.5% compounded monthly interest once the virus has been contained.”
Susan Ople, head of the policy center, said a joint resolution passed by the Senate and HoR would have the force of law. It will greatly ease the anxiety of our workers overseas, many of who already face a quite uncertain future,” she said.
The joint resolution can reimpose the previous fixed rate of P2,400 a year for migrant workers.
“Unlike local workers, our OFWs cannot compel their employers to split the cost of the health insurance premium. To peg the premium based on the salary of an OFW is unfair because he or she will be shouldering the entire amount. This will eat up a huge chunk of dollar remittances meant for their family’s basic needs,” Ople said.
The Blas Ople Policy Center also chided legislators for failing to invite OFW groups and private sector representatives in public hearings concerning the Universal Health Care Act.
“We are not against universal health care but we are against legislation without representation,” the labor advocate said.
Ople noted that the overseas employment sector is one of the hardest hit by COVID19.
“Our OFWs face an uncertain future – lockdowns and curfews, travel bans and no work, no pay schemes. But they are holding on and trying their best to survive – they are the informal social amelioration program that keeps households afloat. They don’t deserve a flawed provision that seeks to take away more than they can afford for a health insurance that they rarely, if at all, need to avail of.”