250,000 OFWs unable to enjoy PhilHealth benefits due to encoding backlog
MANILA, Philippines–Some 250,000 overseas Filipino workers and their beneficiaries are unable to enjoy the benefits of membership in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. because of a three-month encoding backlog at the agency, a recruiter and migration expert claimed Thursday.
“The services given to OFWs by PhilHealth are totally inadequate especially with the very poor encoding process … of PhilHealth payments made by recruitment agencies at the POEA ((Philippine Overseas Employment Administration),” said Loreto Soriano, president of LBS-E Recruitment Solutions Inc.
PhilHealth’s “very poor services” is one of the reasons the recruitment industry is “vehemently” opposed to its plan to increase by 100 percent the annual premium paid by OFWs, said Soriano.
The state insurance firm’s plan to double OFW premiums to P2,400 starting next year has run into opposition from the recruitment industry, the OFWs themselves and migrant labor groups.
At least two Facebook pages have been opened against the fee hike. One of them, “Global OFW Voices” already has close to 5,000 followers. Its online poster opposing the increase has been shared more than 30,000 times on the social networking site.
“The encoding process by PhilHealth is three to four months late and this results in the OFWs and their dependents being denied health and hospital benefits since their names do not appear in the PhilHealth data bank,” said Soriano.
He said the POEA processes 75,000 contracts (new and re-hires) each month and “the backlog is now at 250,000 OFWs who are members of PhilHealth.”
“Their latest update is only up to February… meaning between March up to July, dependents of OFW members of PhilHealth are deprived of benefits and services due to them,” Soriano said.
“They should fix this to ensure everything is on line once payment is made,” he said.