PhilHealth clarifies ‘backlog’
This is in reaction to the news item titled “Backlog ails PhilHealth,” by Philip C. Tubeza and Jerome Aning (Inquirer, 6/29/12).
We appreciate Tubeza and Aning’s concerns regarding the benefits that should be enjoyed by our OFW (overseas Filipino worker) members. We are especially conscious of this; hence, allow us to address the key points raised in the news item.
On the encoding backlog. First, we would like to correct the impression that 250,000 OFWs are being deprived of their benefits because of our alleged slow encoding services. While there might indeed be a backlog in the encoding of membership applications, this backlog was caused by the increasing number of applicants for membership—and it is far smaller than 250,000.
Furthermore, the availment of their PhilHealth benefits have not been stopped nor compromised. We assure all our OFW members that they have been and will continue to be covered by PhilHealth.
As for the encoding of the records, we have undertaken measures to help speed up the processing of the applications. We have increased the number of encoders to hasten encoding, with our staff members working overtime to fast-track the processing of the applications and renewals. Enhancements are also being done on our existing IT systems.
We want to assure our OFW members that this is an isolated system glitch and that we are addressing the problem. We assure everyone that we will continue to provide all our members efficient services which we are mandated to uphold.
On the premium increase. Since we took over the Medicare functions for OFWs in 2005, we have not had an adjustment in the premium contribution rate for OFW members. It is only this year that an adjustment is being made to enable us to fund the new set of benefit packages that we are introducing to our members, including OFWs. More importantly, the increase affects all paying member categories, and not just OFWs who have enjoyed the lowest premium rate for quite some time already, in recognition of their valuable contributions to the country’s economy.
However, in order to make sure that the premium increase will not burden the OFWs as they depart for the countries where they will work, OFWs have been given the option to pay only part of the annual premium of P1,200. Currently, the minimum required premium is P900, but we are currently studying if we could further lower this amount. We have been putting up mechanisms to allow OFWs and/or their families to conveniently pay the subsequent premiums.
—GREGORIO C. RULLODA,
vice president, Corporate Affairs Group,
Philippine Health Insurance Corp.,
Citystate Centre Building,
709 Shaw Blvd., Pasig City