PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the suspension of premium rate and income ceiling hike of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), Malacañang said Monday, January 2, 2022.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said in a memorandum he signed that Marcos has directed the suspension of the increases “in light of the prevailing socio-economic challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide financial relief to our countrymen amidst these difficult times.”

The supposed scheduled increase on premium rate was from four percent to 4.5 percent and income ceiling from P80,000 to P90,000 for calendar year 2023, as mandated by Section 10 of Republic Act 11223, also known as the Universal Healthcare Law.

The law aims to reach a five percent Philhealth contribution rate by 2024.

Philhealth spokesperson Dr. Shirley Domingo earlier said that the increase in contribution will help fund additional benefits that the agency is currently crafting, which include expanded coverage to include free consultation fees, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services.

The Philhealth board is set to discuss the matter by Wednesday, January 4.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that the additional premiums from the increased contributions will be allotted to the expansion of the Universal Health Care Law, which automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens, including overseas Filipino workers, in the state social health insurance Philhealth.

“The DOH and Philhealth recognize the suspension is intended to help our kababayans cope with the increasing prices of commodities caused by inflation,” the DOH and Philhealth said in a joint press statement.

“Such moratoriums on increases in premium contributions have been done in years 2020 and 2021. This was in accordance with directives of the Office of the President, and in recognition of the effects of the pandemic during those years,” it added. (SunStar Philippines)