Solon wants to pause PhilHealth contributions for minimum wage earners

Solon wants to pause PhilHealth contributions for minimum wage earners
A signpost of PhilHealth
The STAR / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is seeking a temporary suspension of the PhilHealth premium contributions for minimum wage earners to utilize the unspent funds of the state insurer to subsidize the premiums of low-income individuals.

Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina City) filed House Resolution 1595 on Tuesday to provide financial relief to minimum wage earners — whether employed or self-employed — while also using existing resources within PhilHealth to subsidize the monthly premiums of “economically vulnerable” workers.

For two years, PhilHealth has had billions of surplus funds from unspent allocations that were meant for subsidizing the premiums of indigent and vulnerable persons. 

In 2022, Congress earmarked P80 billion to subsidize health insurance premiums for indigent families, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Despite this allocation, PhilHealth reportedly left P24 billion untouched. 

In 2023, Congress again designated funds for premium subsidies, this time totaling P79 billion. The state insurer left P39 billion unspent.  

“The unspent premium of PhilHealth can very well cover the premium contributions of minimum wage earners for at least a year since in 2022 their premium contribution only amounted to P19.6 Bn,” Quimbo said. 

The lawmaker added that the state insurer’s financial reserves are expected to reach P463 billion in 2023, representing a 68% increase from the previous year. 

PhilHealth’s surplus funds come from the premiums collected from members and unspent appropriations from Congress, Quimbo added.

“This surplus suggests that PhilHealth can afford to suspend premium contributions for minimum wage earners without compromising its financial stability,” the lawmaker added. 

Quimbo’s resolution seeks to reassess PhilHealth’s benefit packages and contribution structure.

“The goal is to expand health benefits for all members and potentially reform the contribution structure, or even to possibly eliminate premiums for minimum wage earners and self-employed individuals earning the equivalent of minimum wages,” Quimbo added.

PhilHealth hiked its members’ premium contribution this year from 4% to 5% in line with the Universal Health Care law. — Cristina Chi

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