Archive for October, 2010

PhilHealth hikes professionals’ premium

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: News |

Published on October 5, 2010
Manila Standard Today
by: Macon Araneta

MEDICAL doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and other individual-paying members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. will have their annual premium contributions doubled starting on Oct. 12.

For next year, the premium will rise by 200 percent, PhilHealth said in circular 24 series of 2010.

The premium rate hike is meant to rationalize the contributions of individual members who have been paying a premium based on a nine-year old schedule, Philhealth president and chief executive officer Rey Aquino said on Monday.

PhilHealth’s individual members, who accounted for 3.5 million or 16 percent of Philhealth’s membership of 21 million, will be made to pay P600 per quarter or P2,400 for one year. The rate will then increase to P900 per quarter or P3,600 annually for next year. IPMs pay for their premium contributions, unlike regular members whose contributions are partly shouldered by their employers.

An individual member whose monthly family income in the last 12 months reached only P25,000 would be exempted from the premium increase, according to the circular. His/her contributions remain at P300 per quarter or P1,200 a year.

To gain exemption from the premium increase, a member has to show proof of income such as his/her tax returns, Aquino said.

Among those categorized as IPMs are accountants, engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, nurses and teachers, while “other professions” refer to artists, businessmen, consultants, media practitioners and athletes.

“For as long as they practice their professions beyond any employee-employer relationship, they can be covered by PhilHealth as IPMs. This means that they have no employer and they are paying their Philhealth premiums on their own. So if they earn above P25,000, they will pay the increase in Philhealth premiums,” Aquino said.

He said it just makes perfect sense to strike a balance between the high and low earning segments of the informal economy and make the IPM program a truly equitable one.

Citing the principle of social equity and solidarity, Aquino stressed that “those who are receiving more should pay more while those who are receiving less should pay less without prejudice to the benefits that both of them are entitled to as active members of the program.”

He cited Section 28 of Republic Act 7875 as amended which states that “all members of the National Health Insurance Program shall contribute to the fund, in accordance with a reasonable, equitable, and progressive contribution schedule.”

RA 7875 as amended is PhilHealth’s enabling law first enacted in 1995.

He said the new premium policy for self-practicing professionals who are registered as IPMs is being implemented by the state-run health insurance agency to rationalize its contribution schedule.

He said the premium adjustment is their timely response to a growing clamor to rationalize the contribution schedule. PhilHealth last increased its IPM premiums in April 2001 from P75 to P100 a month.

President Noynoy Aquino wants a 100-percenthealth insurance coverage of the whole population within three years.

The PhilHealth official also allayed fears that the increase in PhilHealth fees will adversely affect the poor members.

Meanwhile, health groups belonging to the Coalition for Health Advocacy and Transparency urged PhilHealth to implement a socialized scheme in the premium payment of PhilHealth members and stop the planned across increase in premium payment for the individually-paying members next month.

“How can the informal workers and self-employed low-income groups possibly afford the premium payment at double the existing rate? This proposal will perpetuate our long-held problem of inequity in the delivery of health services and will be the complete opposite of the promise of this administration to provide universal health care for all,” said Paula Tanquieng, spokesman of one of the groups.

The groups urged PhilHealth to defer the implementation of the premium increase pending a credible study on the most appropriate mechanism to ensure that the poor who do not qualify as “true indigents” under the National House Targeting system of the Department of Social Welfare and Development will still be covered by PhilHealth.

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