Sen. Joel “TESDAMAN” Villanueva urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to answer unresolved issues and controversies as the agency is set to increase contributions this June.
“Ngayong magtataas sila ng singil, dapat rin nating singilin ang PhilHealth ng sagot sa mga isyu na natalakay natin noon sa mga hearing sa Senado. Ano ang mga hakbang na ginawa at ginagawa ng PhilHealth upang matugunan ang mga anomalya sa pondo na naungkat natin sa mga nakaraang Senate hearings? Nabayaran na ba ng PhilHealth ang mga utang nito sa ospital nitong pandemya? Dapat may report at accounting sila bago pa man sila magpatupad ng mas mataas na singil,” said Villanueva.
In addition, Villanueva said that the mandated increase in PhilHealth contributions starting next month should equate to better health services, especially with inflation in the country hitting a 3-year high at 4.9% and rising prices of fuel and basic goods.
“Kung automatic po and pagtaas ng bayad natin sa PhilHealth, dapat rin pong automatic ang pagpapaganda ng health services para sa ating mga kababayan. Halimbawa, meron na bang mas malawak na outpatient drug benefit and emergency package ang PhilHealth, gaya ng nakasaad sa Universal Health Care (UHC) Act,” said Villanueva.
“Ngayong tataas na ang bayad sa PhilHealth, pakiramdam po ng mga tao ngayon ay perwisyo kaysa serbisyo ang nakukuha natin sa PhilHealth,” he adds.
Villanueva has previously stated that even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PhilHealth has been recording persistently low support value, or the portion of hospitalization costs that the agency shoulders vis-a-vis the members’ total hospital bill. This is despite the increased funds of PhilHealth from premium payments from direct contributors and the annual appropriations in the national budget to finance the implementation of the UHC Law.
Under the Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, PhilHealth premium rates will go up from 2.75% in 2019 up to 5% for 2024 and 2025. The premium rates are set to increase by 4% this coming June. Following orders from Malacañang in January 2021, the hike in PhilHealth contributions were suspended last year and collection remained at 3%. Prior to this order, Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 1968, mandating the suspension of the scheduled increase in PhilHealth contributions in the event of a public health emergency.
Villanueva said that the spirit of the Universal Health Care Law is not about enriching PhilHealth with increased premium rates, but it is about giving quality healthcare for Filipinos.
“PhilHealth is accountable to our workers who contribute their hard-earned money to pay the health premiums. This is also about our health workers and health care providers whose livelihoods also depend on PhilHealth fulfilling their responsibilities,” the senator said.