Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To My Fellow Freelancers

When I started as a freelance trainee Production Assistant for Unitel 13 years ago, my parents were very much against it, especially my mom. She has no qualms with whatever industry I was getting into, but she had issues with the term “freelance.” As a government employee in all her working years, she knew the importance of having a regular-paying job with benefits. But, of course, my love for production work got the better of me despite all her objections. To make the long story short, she forced me to continue contributing voluntarily to my SSS and my PhilHealth (MediCare during that time). Uh-huh, “forced” is the correct term. She even applied for my personal health card and even paid for the first few months just to get it started!
As a freelancer with so much work to do, it is always an effort (with a capital E!) to go to these different offices and follow-up on the paperwork and pay the contributions through the banks (even if it is just a block away). I am blessed to have a Mom who reminded me, via scolding (oh, yes!), to pay my contributions and make sure all my accounts are updated.
It was annoying, really. But of course, it was all for my advantage in the long run. I have benefited from all her bickering when I was hospitalized twice and my son, twice (nagpaparamihan ‘ata kaming mag-ina!).
My recent “trip” to the hospital and a mishap with my health card gave me quite a panic a few days ago. When we got the final billing from the hospital, I realized that I didn’t have enough cash with me to pay all the bills. I was limited from withdrawing the maximum amount of each of my ATM cards as we can’t make a large withdrawal from the bank because it was a holiday! I originally assumed that my health card plus my PhilHealth were enough to cover for everything. If ever there were additional payments, I’m sure it was something I can manage. It was a morning full of phone calls with my health card coordinator (because he failed to drop by at the hospital) and the hospital’s billing department. It turned out that I was right all along and it was the coordinator’s failure to coordinate properly why a miscommunication with the hospital’s billing department has occurred. To sum it all up, everything was settled accordingly and we only had to pay the 15K excess.
In that momentary state of panic, I realized that despite the fact that I “readied” myself financially before the operation, without my health card and PhilHealth, I could have swiped out most of my savings in a jiffy. (Pa’no na ang camera bag ko? Ang D700 ko? Ang matching traveling suitcases namin ni Mokong? Ang 12.1-inch na HP laptop ko? Hehehe!)
I’m not writing this to promote my health card (I didn’t even mention what health card it was that I used) or discuss the operation that I had. I’m just writing this because I know how much it would cost for us to get sick. “Us” would mean the freelance people from production who doesn’t know how to say “no” from work, available every 24/7, and often de-prioritizes eating, resting and sleeping to give way for more work to be done. (O, diba?! Tayong-tayo yun!) And I know for a fact that most of you haven’t even fixed your SSS numbers yet or your contributions, or your PhilHealth, or even applied for a health card. Maybe, it’s high time to consider doing it now. (Naks! Parang tag line lang sa print ad!)
Seriously, some of you are living by yourselves here in Metro Manila with families too far from you for comfort and help. Some of you are even bread-winners. And because I have worked with you and will still work with you, I, obviously, care.
So, first thing tomorrow, check your SSS and PhilHealth. And scout for a health card applicable for you (and your family). Promise, it would be for your own good.
The "Old"

The "New"

P.S. You may probably think that my hospitalization was easier for me because I am now an in-house LP. Nope. The health card I used was the same health card my Mom applied for 9 years ago. As for my PhilHealth, I have made an advance payment for one year since December 2008. Again, I was still a freelance then.


LiQuiDfiRe said...

hala... bket ka naospital? :o

hope youre feelin better.. get well! :)

b.a.r.o.k said...

i had an operation. but i'm ok now. i'm just at home, resting :)

sarj said...

so that means you're for Universal Health Care? seriously though. if it's expensive to be sick here in the US, it is more expensive to be sick Pinas. you're right , tell you're frineds what you learned, and thanks for listening to Mama.

~Ate jane~

b.a.r.o.k said...

ay, kebs ko sa mga political stands on health care. all i wanted is to let all my other co-workers know that they may have such high-paying rates as freelancers, but if they get sick, ay... gazhhh... they'll be paying high as well. it'll be better to be prepared.

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