• Aquino will not stop SSS, PhilHealth premium hikes

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd has no plan to stop the Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) from increasing their members’ contributions, a Palace official said.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. defended the increase, saying that the adjustment is reasonable. He noted that the increase in contributions has been studied carefully and is within the bounds of the law.

    “Batay po iyan sa masusing pag-aaral, naaayon din po sa batas, wala pong planong ipatigil iyan [The move was based on thorough studies and is within the law. There is no plan to stop it],” he said in a radio interview.

    Starting this month, the SSS and PhilHealth will collect higher contributions from their members despite protests from some sectors.

    “It is clear that the higher contributions for SSS and PhilHealth are the result of a thorough study to make sure they will not be a burden on members, and will result in greater benefits for members,” Coloma said.

    According to him, PhilHealth presently covers 80 percent of the population, including four million poor families enrolled in the conditional cash transfer program.

    However, these families are not covered by the higher rate.

    On the other hand, Coloma said that 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 health services in 85 public hospitals nationwide.

    “Kaya dapat pong unawain ang konteksto nitong mga social protection program na tinuring natin, dalawa na nga po diyan ‘yung PhilHealth at SSS contribution [We should understand the context of the social protection program as far as the SSS and PhilHealth are concerned],” he added.

    As for the SSS contributions, Coloma said that 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 [Once the SSS’ funds are depleted, all Filipinos have to shoulder the costs of pension because the pensions are guaranteed by the government],” he said.

    Coloma also said that 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.

    Meanwhile, Coloma said that 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.

    He said that the maximum daily allowance for illness will go up by P30, from P450 to P480, while the maximum daily allowance for those on maternity leave will go up by P33 from P500 to P533 daily.

    As for retirement pensions, Coloma said members who contributed for 10 years under the P6,000 maximum salary credit will get a P400 increase in their monthly pensions. Those who contributed for 40 years using the maximum salary credit are entitled to an P800 increase in monthly pension.

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