AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Tuesday called on Malacañang to suspend the scheduled contribution rate hikes for the private sector pension fund and the shelter financing fund, following the deferment of health insurance contribution increase.
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France L. Castro said the Social Security System (SSS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, both government-owned corporations, should also postpone the rate increases this year to help members as they cope with rising prices of basic goods.
The Office of the President announced on Monday the suspension of the increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) contributions this year to “provide financial relief to our countrymen amidst these difficult times.”
Ms. Castro said SSS and Pag-IBIG Fund “should follow suit.”
“This (PhilHealth deferment) is good but I think we can cite the same reason to also defer the premium hikes of the Social Security System (and the Home Development Mutual Fund. Inflation is still rising, with the first week of 2023 ushering in a big-time oil price hike and a staggering increase in water and power rates,” Ms. Castro, who represents the ACT Teachers Party-list, said.
Beginning Jan. 1, SSS contribution rates increased to 14% from 13% as mandated under Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which expanded SSS’ mandatory membership coverage as well as benefits.
With the new rates this year, employer’s share increased to 9.5% from 8.5%, while employee’s share remained at 4.5%.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) previously called for the suspension of SSS rate hikes to consider enterprises that are still recovering from the pandemic.
PAG-IBIG has also increased its monthly contributions to P200 starting January 2023 from P150, which also applies to employer’s share.
Meanwhile, senators asked Mr. Marcos to issue a clarification that the PhilHealth contribution rate hike will eventually be imposed to sustain the fund that is key to the implementation of the universal healthcare law.
“We also understand the situation of our countrymen, especially those directly affected by the pandemic, so it is a big thing to temporarily hold the increase in premiums first,” Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay said in a statement in Filipino.
“But I hope the Palace will also clarify that PhilHealth will still charge the supposed adjustments in the years to come,” she added.
Under the Universal Health Care Act, PhilHealth’s premium rate should increase by 0.5% yearly starting from 3% in 2020 until it hits 5% in 2025.
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri, in a Viber message to reporters on Tuesday, said the rate increase will likely be imposed once inflation in the country stabilizes.
“The premium rate hikes may be established after we have brought down our inflation rate at a more comfortable level in the near future,” he said.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas sees inflation to average 4.5% in 2023 before easing to 2.8% in 2024. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan