This is according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who gave a briefing on Monday, May 3.
“Una sa lahat, ipinapaalam po namin sa inyo na nagissue ng direktiba ang Presidente sa PhilHealth para gawing boluntaryo po ang pagbabayad ng mga OFWs ng PhilHealth premiums,” Roque said.
Roque added the payment of premiums was also no longer a requirement for an overseas employment certificate.
Roque made the announcement following complaints over the reported hike in the premium contributions of OFWs to PhilHealth amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Under PhilHealth Circular 2020-0014 dated April 16, 2020, premium payments of OFWs whose monthly income ranges from P10,000 to P60,000 rise to 3 percent of their monthly salary starting this year.
In 2019, premium payments constituted 2.75 percent of their salary in that bracket.
PhilHealth said the increase was under the Universal Health Care Act signed into law in February last year, but Roque said the hike was not in the law itself but in the law’s implementing rules and regulations issued by PhilHealth.
Senator Bong Go urged PhilHealth to defer the hike, noting that many affected OFWs were merely relying on the P10000 assistance given one time by the government.