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PhilHealth, SSS, GSIS ‘losing sight’ of retirees

/ 12:02 AM October 25, 2014

Last Oct. 17, the Inquirer carried a news item about senior citizens who have paid at least 120 monthly premiums to the Social Security System or Government Service Insurance System being qualified for lifetime membership with PhilHealth, without having to pay any more premium. I am a retiree and I have satisfied the 120-monthly-premium requirement long ago.

In fact, I continued paying my premium until June 30, 2013, because I was rehired by the House of Representatives as a coterminous employee.

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However, I was not able to avail myself of hospitalization benefit for my wife when she was hospitalized last September. The PhilHealth CARES employee at the hospital told me I could not enjoy the benefit because I did not have the ID card of a lifetime member. I showed her my original PhilHealth ID card, but she still refused.

So I applied for the new ID card. But after the release of my wife from the hospital, I was surprised to see that the ID number in the new ID card was the same as the number of my original ID card. Now why didn’t PhilHealth honor my original ID card? It could have determined I was eligible to become a lifetime member and entitled to its corresponding benefits.

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When I stopped paying my PhilHealth premiums in July 2013 onward, PhilHealth should have advised me to apply for a new, lifetime member’s ID card.

Having assisted the committee on health of the House of Representatives during the enactment of the original PhilHealth Law, and having been a member of the team that went to South Korea and Thailand in the early 1990s for a study tour on their health insurance system, allow me to make the following suggestions:

1. PhilHealth should announce that all retirees eligible to become lifetime members should apply for a new ID so that when the time comes for them to apply for benefit, they are qualified to receive it. Note that lawyer Alex Padilla could have announced this in the news conference but he forgot. PhilHealth can e-mail them the application form.

2. The SSS and the GSIS should upgrade the pension of the retirees pursuant to the Senior Citizens Law, as amended, under which they are mandated to review and increase the pension.

To be benefited from these twin moves are six million senior citizens, who should not be deprived of what is rightfully theirs and whose benefits should not be sacrificed on the altar of astronomical bonuses favoring the officers of PhilHealth, SSS and GSIS.

—MAFEO R. VIBAL,
[email protected]

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TAGS: GSIS, letters to the editor, opinion, Philhealth, retirees, SSS
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