MANILA, Philippines – Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ralph Recto urged yesterday the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to also hike benefits to its members similar to the move of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Philhealth has announced that it is increasing its benefits for members by 35 percent starting May 1 as part of its contribution to the government’s economic stimulus package.
The state-owned health insurance company said this would translate to roughly P7 billion increase in benefit payments to member-beneficiaries.
Recto said the state-owned pension funds should also make a similar move.
“We are encouraging our social security institutions to provide additional benefits for their members. The interventions could be time-bound but targeted—let’s say for 12 months or for the duration of the crisis, especially for senior citizens—and aimed at increasing purchasing power,” he said.
The NEDA chief said that these resources will be taken from the difference between the contributions and claims and benefits,” he explained.
Philhealth’s move, he said, is timely and very helpful to members since they would be assisted in their health expenses, alongside the additional benefits and continued assistance, particularly to displaced workers.
A component of the government’s Economic Resiliency Package is enhancing social protection and assisting the vulnerable sectors.
Under the plan, a billion pesos will be added to the 2009 budget of the Sponsored Indigent Program of the National Health Insurance Program to fully fund the premium of the sponsored indigent members.
Philhealth, for its part, said it would also continue to provide PhilHealth benefits for displaced workers by including them in the “sponsored group” of members.
Those who would like to avail of this must register with the Department of Labor and Employment, who would in turn coordinate with their respective local government units (LGUs). The LGUs will be asked to contribute half of the worker’s P1,200 premium fee so the displaced workers can continuously avail of PhilHealth services.- Iris C. Gonzales, Philippine Star