Palace won't stop SSS, PhilHealth contributions hike

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Malacanang defended on Sunday the Social Security System (SSS) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on their decision to increase contributions of their respective members.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the higher contribution rates for the two state-run agencies had been carefully studied and are within the bounds of the law.

He also said that the increases were minimal and affordable, and will bring greater benefits to the people.

"Malinaw po sa pagpapahayag natin na ang kinauukulang pagtaas sa kontribusyon ng SSS at PhilHealth ay: produkto po ng masusing pag-aaral at konsultasyon; tinimbang po at tiniyak na hindi magiging masyadong mabigat, bagkus ito ay magaan at kayang pasanin ng mga kinauukulan; at ito po ay nagreresulta sa mas makabuluhang mga benepisyo para sa mga kasapi ng SSS at PhilHealth," he said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Because of this, Coloma said the government has no plan to stop implementing the higher contributions.

Starting January this year, the SSS and PhilHealth have started collecting higher contributions from members, even as some sectors complained about the adjustment.

Some members of Congress demanded Friday an explanation on the collecion of higher contributions, with Representatives Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol) and Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna), for their part, seeking to defer the increase as the country is yet to recover from calamities that struck it in recent months. [Read the related story.]

But when asked if the government plans to stop implementing the adjustment, Coloma said: "Batay po iyan sa masusing pag-aaral, naaayon din po sa batas, wala pong planong ipatigil iyan dahil sa mga kadahilanang nabanggit na rin sa aking pahayag."

He also reiterated the higher contributions are in the context of social protection, where the proceeds are to benefit the poor.

Coloma noted PhilHealth presently covers 80 percent of the population, including four million poor families availing themselves of the conditional cash transfer program.

He said the four million families are considered sponsored members and are not covered by the higher rate.

On the other hand, he said employees and individually paying members and overseas Filipino workers can afford the higher contribution, which he said amounts to P200 from the previous P100 - or an increase of just P3 a day.

Such contributions entitle members to access to health services in 85 public hospitals nationwide, he added.

"Kaya dapat pong unawain ang konteksto nitong mga social protection program na tinuring natin, dalawa na nga po diyan ‘yung PhilHealth at SSS contribution," he said.

As for the SSS contributions, Coloma said the increase in contributions is needed to prevent the agency's funds from drying up.

"Sa sandaling maubos ang pondo ng SSS, buong sambayanan ang siyang babalikat ng mga pangangailangan ng mga pensyonado dahil sa garantiya ng pamahalaan," he said.

Coloma also said the increase in premium or employee/employer contribution to the SSS starting January 1 amounts to 0.6 percent of the monthly contributions.

This will bring down by P166 billion the unfunded liabilities of the SSS, which had amounted to P1.078 trillion, he added.

Also, Coloma said the adjustment stemmed from consultations with traders' groups, including the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

Because of this, he said the maximum daily allowance for illness will go up by P30, from P450 to P480.

He also said the maximum daily allowance of maternity benefits will go up by P33 from P500 to P533 daily.

As for retirement pensions, he said members who contributed for 10 years under the P6,000 maximum salary credit may get a P400 increase in their monthly pensions.

Those who contributed 40 years using the maximum salary credit are entitled to an P800 increase in monthly pension, he added.

Newspaper reports say at least 30.04 million individual members and 871,642 employers will be affected by the increased monthly SSS contributions alone. (SDR/Sunnex)

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