PhilHealth premium payments to help pay for ₱27-B hospital debt DOH chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Ted Herbosa said the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will continue collecting premium payments, which will be used to help settle unpaid hospital claims amounting to ₱27 billion.

"Iyon ang source naman ng pambayad eh. So, to me, tuloy yung premium. Pero dapat mas mabilis yung bayad kasi mas marami ng pera," Herbosa said in an interview.

[Translation: That is the source of the payment. So, to me, the premium should continue. But payments should be faster because there is now more money.]

He expressed optimism that the state insurer will be able to pay its outstanding hospital debt in 90 days.

Herbosa's statement was a reaction to Marikina Rep. and House appropriations panel vice chairperson Stella Luz Quimbo’s suggestion during a House committee hearing that PhilHealth temporarily suspends its collection of premium contributions, saying the state health insurer earned more or less ₱100 billion in 2022 but its benefit packages do not match those of private health maintenance organizations (HMO).

"Hindi ba natin pwedeng temporarily i-suspend ang pagkolekta ng premiums mula sa mga workers katulad natin until you show proof that you can effectively spend your money?" the lawmaker asked during DOH budget deliberations on Thursday.

[Translation: Can we temporarily suspend the collection of premiums from workers like us until you can show proof that you can effectively spend your money?]

Quimbo cited that an ordinary nurse contributes around ₱24,000 every year without receiving a proper health plan from PhilHealth compared with private medical insurance companies such as MediCard.

In response, PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Ledesma said they can either reduce the premium or increase the benefits if PhilHealth's reserve fund reaches a certain amount.

Quimbo said, however, that they have been promising better packages since the creation of PhilHealth in 1995.