Business and labor groups have urged for the resolution of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) issues to avoid disruption in the delivery of services of some 300 hospitals, affecting the employers operations and the well-being of their workers.


The groups banded under the Leaders’ Forum, a national bipartite committee, said they have submitted a joint letter to PhilHealth dated December 15, 2020, calling for urgent resolution on issues surrounding the agency that have significant impacts on member-employers and workers.

In the said letter, the Leaders Forum, composed of business organizations – Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), and the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT), and trade union federations, Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) – cited four main issues hounding the PhilHealth.

On allegations of corruption, the group enjoined PhilHealth to immediately respond to these allegations so as not to hamper the delivery of services of affected hospitals.

This includes accounting for the reportedly missing funds that are supposed to be part of member benefits and PhilHealth resources.

The Leaders’ Forum also cited the statement of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPI), claiming that around 300 accredited private hospitals may close down due to delayed PhilHealth payments.

“Despite the alleged mismanagement, we believe that the PhilHealth should remain a public institution. It is our firm position that the leadership should be responsible and accountable for the full implementation of PhilHealth’s mandate, while the institution itself should be preserved from scandals such as the current corruption allegations,” they added.

On transparency and accountability, the Leaders Forum stressed that there is a cause for concern regarding the institution’s actuarial life based on the statement of PhilHealth Acting Senior Vice President Nerissa Santiago.

The Leaders’ Forum also cited that during a Senate committee hearing held on August 4, 2020, Santiago claimed that PhilHealth will run into deficit by 2021 and there will be no more reserve fund in the institution by then.

“The pandemic is expected to substantially decrease the premium contributions that the institution receives from its members, and a net operating loss of about P90 billion is then expected this year,” added the group.

To address this issue, the Leaders’ Forum recommended that PhilHealth disclose the audited financial condition of the institution, showing existing and unaccounted funds for full disclosure and policymaking moving forward.

The group also called for appropriate budget to cover member benefits which should be requested through the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2021.

This can be a standby fund while investigations are ongoing.

They also said that PhilHealth undergoes regular fraud and performance audits to be conducted by the Commission on Audit.

An actuarial study shall also be administered by a third party, particularly by the Actuarial Society of the Philippines, to analyze the financial status of firms and publish them for public information; and that PhilHealth’s information system be reviewed and improved to facilitate projections on its fund life and promote good governance and transparency.

In light of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the Leaders’ Forum called for the one-year deferment of the premium increase beginning 2021 to 2022.

The group suggested that the delay may be extended depending on the directives of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF) and/or other authorized government agencies, in consultation with the employers and labor sectors.

“Instead of increasing the premium contributions in the coming year, PhilHealth must regularly review its policies, procedures, and programs to ensure a more prudent and judicious management of the funds to which employers and employees contribute,” the group recommended.

The group expressed its concern over businesses that are just re-starting under a more relaxed quarantine stage and that the higher premium contributions set for the year 2021 will be an added burden which business, in general, and the MSMEs, in particular, will find very difficult to cope and comply with.

On genuine sectoral representation, the Leaders’ Forum also made mention of the absence of representation for employers and the labor sectors in the PhilHealth Board which, the group said, results in adverse policy implications, especially on both sectors.

“Tripartism, as institutionalized by the Labor Code of the Philippines, shall be the main engine for policy development and decision-making on labor-management relations issues at the national and regional levels.

This representation covers tripartite government agencies such as the PhilHealth to ensure that policies and programs developed are truly reflective of the interests of their constituents,” the group explained.

Considering the mandate and that both employers and workers are PhilHealth stakeholders, the Leaders’ Forum said that their voice should then be formally counted in the PhilHealth Board to help promote balance and accountability.

Source: Manila Bulletin (