The Overseas Filipino workers (OFW), will no longer be required to pay premiums to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), the Malacañang said on Monday.
The directive was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte. OFWs should pay on a voluntary basis, spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.
According to Roque, the payment of PhilHealth premium is no longer a requirement before OFWs can secure an overseas employment certificate.
Philhealth is a tax-exempt government corporation attached to the Department of Health (DOH) mandated to administer the National Health Insurance Program, which provides health care services to all Philippine citizens.
Recently, PhilHealth issued a circular that will be increasing the premium payments of OFWs whose monthly income ranged from P10,000 to P60,000 to 3% of their monthly salary starting this year.
According to the state insurer, this was stated in the Universal Health Care Law, which President Duterte signed last year.
An online petition on Change.org has since been mounted to repeal the measure, given the effects of the global health crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, the OFW groups, with the number of 170 all over the world have also called the moratorium for all the collections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the controversy, PhilHealth said that it is up to Congress, which resumes the session on Monday, to review the hike in OFW premium payments.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who authored the bill when he was a party-list lawmaker, said the part about increasing OFW premium payments was not included in his bill.
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