PhilHealth: OFWs no longer required to pay premium to secure OECs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4) — Overseas Filipino workers no longer need to settle their premium contributions to obtain their overseas employment certificates (OECs) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the state insurer said on Monday.

"Hindi naman ang PhilHealth ang may hawak ng OECs, pero nakikipag-ugnayan kami para ma-register yung OFWs bago sila umalis, kasi may mga pamilya sila rito; at napakababa ng enrollment rate natin," BGen. Ricardo Morales, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, said in a public briefing.

[Translation: We are not the ones processing the OECs, but we are coordinating (with the concerned agencies) to register the OFWs before they leave the country, because they have families who will be left here; and our enrollment rate is very low.]

"Pinapakiusap lang namin sa POEA na i-enroll ‘yung mga departing OFWs," he added.

[Translation: We are only asking the POEA to enroll the departing OFWs.]

PhilHealth clarified that it is not deploying personnel to airports and sea ports to check on the OECs of the Filipino migrant workers.

Under the rules and regulations of the POEA, OFWs are required to present their OECs "when departing for—or returning to—their work overseas," as the documents serve as proof that they are OFWs, and that they are registered with the POEA.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has officially ordered PhilHealth to suspend the collection of higher premiums from the OFWs.

The state-owned agency drew flak for implementing a raise in the premium contribution of the OFWs, requiring them to pay 3 percent of their annual salaries — an increase from last year’s 2.75 percent.