PhilHealth premium hike during pandemic insensitive, OFWs say

PhilHealth premium hike during pandemic insensitive, OFWs say
In this file photo, an official of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration gives outbound Filipino workers a briefing.
The STAR / Joven Cagande, File

MANILA, Philippines — Migrant Filipino workers in the United Arab Emirates said Sunday that the hike in the mandatory monthly contribution to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is a huge burden for OFWs and is insensitive to their plight during the pandemic.

Under PhilHealth Circular 2020-0014, OFWs who earn from P10,000 to P60,0000 a month must pay a three-percent monthly premium, up from 2.75% in 2019. Under the same circular, the minimum acceptable initial payment is a three-month premium.

Missed payments carry compounded monthly interest.

Gabriela UAE said that they received news of the premium hike while "still feeling disappointed, even angry, with insufficient government assistance to OFWs affected by the pandemic."

They said that the imposition of the increased premium is insensitive to the needs of OFWs, many of whom have also been affected by quarantine measures against COVID-19. Some have been laid off while others have had wage cuts or are on "no work, no pay" arrangements, the group said.

"Many OFWs did not receive the already meager financial assistance of $200 (P10,000) promised by this government. There were simply too many exclusionary provisions set by the government. Worse, OFW families are often denied of financial assistance from the government simply because they have a relative working abroad," they also said.

"This imposition shows us, once again, that for the Philippine government, OFWs are not living, breathing human beings with needs, rights and families to support but mere milking cows for government funds," Gabriela UAE said.

"Even during this pandemic, the PhilHealth and the Duterte government continue to think of ways to extract money from us OFWs, releasing its memorandum on April 22. We received the news on Labor Day, showing the government’s lack of respect for workers like OFWs," the group also said.

An online petition on Change.org signed by 297,511 as of this post, said "OFWs and our dependents have been already struggling amidst this pandemic and yet Philhealth had issued a very unfair memo regarding premium payments."

"It is very unfortunate that they call OFWs modern heroes and yet they penalize us with such directives," it also said.

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