OFWs urges Philhealth’s accredited hospitals to honor OEC

DUE to mounting complaints, a migrant rights group today urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), a government-run health insurance institution, to order its accredited hospitals to honor an OFW’s Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) as proof of membership.

“We have been receiving complaints from fellow OFWs and their families in the Philippines that Philhealth-accredited hospitals are requiring them proof of membership to obtain services from Philhealth despite presentation of their OEC,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona explained that in the OEC the payment of Philhealth premium, OWWA membership fee, and the newly required PAG-IBIG premium plus the processing fee are all indicated as it serves as a receipt.

“To note that this is a government-issued receipt, then it could well be accepted as proof of Philhealth membership or even OWWA membership as well PAG-IBIG membership. Not to accept this as a proof of OFWs membership to government-service agencies is a gross mistake, if not totally disregarding our OFWs legitimacy to avail government services which in fact they have paid,” Monterona added.

Monterona also calls on the Aquino administration through the DoLE-OWWA and the Department of Health to sort this issue with Philhealth management as soon as possible.

Monterona lamented that when it comes to imposing additional fees and charges “mabilis pa sa alas kuwatro; pero kung pagbibigay ng serbisyo aabutin na lang ng kamatayan ang OFW at pamilya nila sa dami ng pasikot-sikot.”

Meanwhile, Monterona also said that his group is still has a pending complaint to Philhealth regarding its policy of increasing OFW members premium from P900 to P1,200 to take effect by next month.

Late last year, the Philhealth Board issued Circular No.022 imposing a 150% hike in health yearly premiums of OFWs from the current P900 to become P2,400.00

The premium hike faced strong opposition from various OFWs organizations under the banner of Migrante International questioning the legality of the premium hike as it violates the Migrant Workers Act of 2010 or RA 10022 and there were no consultations conducted among various OFWs groups abroad.

On January this year, Migrante-Middle East kicked off an online signature drive to protest the hike in premuim.

Due to OFWs strong opposition, the Philhealth Board issued Circular 007, S.2012 on Feb.21 amending Circular 022. It said that the annual premium contribution of OFWs shall be P1,200 effective January 1, 2012 and will become P2,400 effective January 1, 2013.

Monterona, however, noted that there is still an increase, from the previous P900 to P1,200, which will become P2,400 by January 1, 2013.

Monterona also scored the Philhealth for requiring Balik Mangagawa or vacationing OFWs to sign a policy contract in the issuance of their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) to avail the special ‘lock-in’ rate of P1,200 premium per year which will expire by next year and automatically will become P2,400 by January 2013.

“Because we are required to get an OEC and the payment of our Philhealth premium is attached to it, we are forced now to pay P1,200 for our health premium. Thus, we are urging our fellow OFWs especially those Balik-Mangagawa to write the word ‘Under Protest’ on their OEC(see attached sample) to manifest our on-going opposition on this unjustified premium hikes,” Monterona added.

Migrante-ME reiterate its call on Pres. Aquino III to instruct his health dept. secretary not to implement any premium increase and stop imposing additional burden to OFWs and families amid high inflation and worsening economic condition.

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