PASAY CITY – As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to underline the importance of health security, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has filed a measure seeking to amend Presidential Decree No. 1460, otherwise known as ‘The Insurance Code of 1978’, to protect and safeguard the interests of Filipinos investing in health insurance services.

The bill, Go said, seeks to properly regulate and promote a fair and competitive insurance industry.

In an interview, Go highlighted that investing in private health insurance augments the healthcare services covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to Filipinos.

“Dahil po sa pandemyang Covid-19, mas nakikita natin ang importansya po ng medical insurance. [Sa ngayon], hindi naman po lahat masasagot ng PhilHealth (Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the importance of medical insurance. As of now, not all can be covered by PhilHealth),” Go said.

Go cited many complaints about hospital bills that reached by as much as PHP1 million.

“Magkano lang naman po ang sasagutin ng PhilHealth, kaya ‘yung iba po ay mayroon silang sariling medical insurance o itong tinatawag na HMO [Health Maintenance Organization] (PhilHealth cannot cover all the amount, that’s why others have their own medical insurance or the so-called HMO),” he added.

To address these concerns, Go urged the government to make it easier for Filipinos to invest in their personal health security by sufficiently regulating HMOs.

“Mahalaga ang maagang pag-invest sa health security natin. Dapat proactive naman tayo. Huwag natin hintayin na nasa ospital na tayo saka pa tayo maiisipan ng pangkuha ng medical insurance (It is important to invest early for our health security. We should be proactive. Don’t wait to be confined in the hospital before thinking of getting medical insurance),” he said.

Under his Senate Bill No. 2133 which amends ‘The Insurance Code of 1978’, Go said one of the proposed changes includes explicitly including HMOs into the law’s regulatory coverage which shall enable the Insurance Commission (IC) to provide stricter supervision.

He said his proposed amendment will better protect the industry and the insuring public from unscrupulous practices.

“Itong finile ko po, kahit nasa ilalim ng Insurance Commission ang HMO, ‘di pa rin po malinaw kung nag-apply sa HMO ang mga provision ng Insurance Code. Mas maganda rin na nasa batas (The bill I filed, though the Insurance Commission is under HMO, it is not yet clear if the provision of Insurance Code applies to HMO. It is better to put it in the law),” he said.

Go said his proposed measure aims to include HMO in Insurance Code to protect the interest of the people and encourage a competitive market in the health insurance industry.

HMOs will be subjected to the provisions of the Code not explicitly provided for in Executive Order No. 192. These provisions include the IC’s powers to issue cease-and-desist orders to prevent fraud or injury to the public. This also aims to enhance competition in the insurance industry and effectively improve insurance services for Filipinos.

Under the proposed amendments, the IC will also be put under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas which ensures that all financial service providers in the country are regulated by a single regulatory authority. The IC’s powers will also be amended under Go’s proposed bill.

If passed into law, Go is optimistic that the proposed measure will benefit Filipinos investing in HMOs as it will provide them the necessary safeguards to ensure that their investments are protected.

“Layunin natin na masiguro ang ating mga kababayan na ligtas mag-invest sa HMO at makatulong ang HMO na maimprove ang healthcare sa bansa (It is our objective to ensure our fellow citizens are safe to invest in HMO and for the HMO to help in improving the country’s healthcare),” Go said. “Dapat protektado ang bawat Pilipino sa pagkuha ng HMO. Para magiging mas protektado rin sila sa anumang krisis pangkalusugan na darating (Every Filipino should be protected in getting HMO so that they will be protected in any future health crisis).”