Freeze OFWs' contribution, PhilHealth urged

AMID the controversies hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), a neophyte solon is asking the agency to put on hold its plan to increase the contribution of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Marino party-list Rep. Sandro Gonzalez said PhilHealth should first settle its internal problem as well as clear the officials names from the corruption issue before giving OFWs an additional burden.

In April this year, the beleaguered PhilHealth drew flak from OFWs after it announced, through Circular 2020-0014, that by virtue of their overseas employment, OFWs should fall under the tiered premium hike of PhilHealth.

With the exposè on corruption within the agency by its former anti-fraud officer, Gonzalez called on PhilHealth officials to fix its internal problems before further burdening OFWs.

“It is prudent for PhilHealth officials to look seriously into this matter because the money they have allegedly embezzled comes from the hard work of every Filipino contributor. This issue takes on greater significance, especially that months ago in a time of crisis, PhilHealth proposed to impose a hike on OFW’s health contribution,” Gonzalez said.

“PhilHealth has been saying their reserves have been dwindling due to the government’s response to COVID-19. However, the revelation about fraudulent activities proves otherwise. There is money in the agency, but it goes to the pockets of some unscrupulous officials,” Gonzalez added.

The proposed contribution increase will affect millions of OFWs, including around 400,000 seafarers.

“Many of our constituents voiced their apprehension toward this proposal. They said they will not benefit from the PhilHealth coverage since they are employed overseas. Additionally, with the current scandal the agency faces, their contribution might be used to line the pockets of corrupt officials,” Gonzalez averred.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez backed the call of PhilHealth employees to appoint a “caretaker” who will take over the helm of the agency at this critical time.