LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is extending by three months the medical insurance coverage of hundreds of workers who were laid off as a result of the global recession.
The move came as top PhilHealth officials said the government insurance agency was in good financial health despite the crisis gripping economies around the world.
Dr. Rey Aquino, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, gave the assurance in a media briefing here Wednesday, saying the agency has no stake in foreign investments, only in local government units.
Aquino, together with PhilHealth senior vice presidents Tito Mendiola, Gregorio Rulloda and Ruben John Basa, is doing the rounds nationwide in line with the agency’s advocacy for a PhilHealth universal coverage.
“PhilHealth, considered as the biggest insurance firm in the country, is not affected by the current worldwide financial crisis,” claimed Aquino, as he gave assurance that based on their actuarial studies, the agency is solvent for the next seven years.
Although he did not mention PhilHealth’s financial assets, Aquino said that in the field of insurance services, the agency’s record in the last seven years would support their claim that PhilHealth is stable.
Aquino said that last year, PhilHealth’s coverage had reached 74 percent nationwide and that by February 2010 coverage will reach near the 90-percent bracket in the goal for universal coverage.
He cited the province of Albay, through the leadership of Gov. Joey Salceda, as one of the few provinces with universal coverage by PhilHealth, attained through the agency’s sponsored program which now provides a 35-percent increase in benefits despite no additional fees in premium paid by the members.
Aquino also said that in times of financial crisis, PhilHealth offers special financing to members laid out of work.
He advised laid-off employees to seek the help of their employers to pay the premium for at least one year until the worker finds a new job or is rehired.
The government estimates that at least 40,000 workers lost their jobs as a direct result of the global recession.
Badly hit were manufacturers of electronics and other export products.
They suffered huge losses and were forced to lay off workers or cut working hours when orders for goods dropped in the United States and Europe, two of Philippine exporters’ biggest markets. Eugene Nuñez, Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer