Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s office has suspended the scheduled increase in public health insurance contributions this year as prices continue to spiral amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was supposed to increase the premium rate to 4.5% from 4% under the Universal Health Care Act, according to a copy of a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin.

The presidential palace also suspended the increase in PhilHealth income ceiling to P90,000 from P80,000. In the memo, Mr. Bersamin cited socioeconomic challenges brought about by the pandemic.

There’s a need to “provide financial relief to our countrymen amidst these difficult times,” he said. Under the law, the premium rate should increase by 0.5% yearly starting from 3% in 2020 until it hits 5%.

Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas earlier proposed changes to the Universal Health Care Act to remove automatic premium increases. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza