President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to suspend the increase of its premium rate and income ceiling for the calendar year 2023, the Palace announced on the eve of Mr. Marcos’ trip to China.

This was confirmed by the Office of the Press Secretary and the Office of the Executive Secretary.

The memorandum, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, refers to the “scheduled increase of the premium rate from 4 percent to 4.5 percent, and income ceiling from P80,000 to P90,000 for CY (Calendar Year) 2023 under Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11223.”

“In light of the prevailing socio-economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide financial relief to our countrymen amidst these difficult times, please be informed that the President has directed PhilHealth to suspend the above-mentioned increase in premium rate and income ceiling for CY 2023, subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations,” the memorandum read.

Meanwhile, Philhealth has argued that the impending 4.5-percent increase in premiums would enable the country’s health insurance corporation to sustain the benefits currently enjoyed by its members.

Under the Universal Healthcare (UHC) law, it mandates the increase in member premiums by 0.5 percent every year, starting in 2021 until it reaches its 5-percent limit in 2025.

In 2021, Mr. Marcos’ predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, also postponed the increase in PhilHealth member contributions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.