What are the issues hounding PhilHealth both internally and externally?

June 15, 2018 - 8:00 PM
Philhealth sign (Philstar.com/file photo)

The Philippine Insurance Health Corporation is facing multiple issues both internal and external that could affect its more than 41 million members and 93 million beneficiaries.

PhilHealth President Serna

President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed its interim President Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna over questionable costly travel expenses she made in 2017 while the health insurance firm incurred substantial losses.

Duterte did not specifically announce Serna’s removal from her post, but he appointed Mr. Roy B. Ferrer as the Acting President and Chief Executive Officer as stated in a June 1 letter, apparently taking her post.

Last May, the Commission on Audit flagged Serna for her costly trips and accommodations worth more than P627,000 to Manila and Tagbilaran City, Bohol in 2017.

Aside from her travels, Serna was also questioned for Philhealth’s net loss that ballooned to P8.9 billion in the same year.

Days after she was removed, seven Philhealth officials filed three criminal complaints against her and former health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial with three counts each of malversation of public funds, falsification of public documents and graft.

Complaints vs PhilHealth

Another controversy surrounding Philhealth involves former health secretary Janette Garin and former budget secretary Florencio Abad for allegedly illegally diverting funds for senior citizens worth some P10.6 billion to be used for the 2016 campaign of Liberal Party candidates.

In a joint congressional review, the funds were allegedly taken from the 2015 budget of the Department of Health.

In 2017, PhilHealth had also been under scrutiny for the P247.883 million worth of unauthorized allowances and benefits granted to its officials and employees from 2007 to 2009.

PhilHealth membership

Being the primary health care provider in the country, PhilHealth has some 41 million members and 93 million beneficiaries which include overseas workers and unemployed or indigent Filipinos.

For members in the formal economy or workers with fixed employment contracts, their contributions are normally deducted from their salaries.

Based on their 2018 contribution table for the formal sector, a Filipino employee within the basic monthly range of P10,000 and below will be deducted of P275 per month. This reaches to P1,100 worth of contributions if the Filipino worker earns P40,000 monthly.

Many Filipinos, particularly regular employees, took to social media to express their frustrations on such misuse of Philhealth finances, which are supposedly for much-needed health care.