Some five million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and dependents are now protected by the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth).
In a news release on Friday, Dr. Eduardo Banzon, Philhealth president and chief executive officer, said: “We’ve so far signed up 2.52 million OFWs. Including their 2.48 million declared dependents, we now have around five million Filipinos covered by our Overseas Workers Program.”
Under the program, Banzon said active land-based OFWs who went through the prescribed registration process of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) are enlisted as Philhealth members.
OFWs who are already abroad but have not yet enrolled as Philhealth members may also register under the program, Banzon said.
Sailors and other sea-based OFWs are considered as locally employed members.
Philhealth provides subsidy for room and board, drugs and medicines, laboratory exams, as well as operating room and professional fees for hospital confinements of not less than 24 hours.
It is also covering an increasing number of outpatient services, including day surgeries and treatment of tuberculosis.
Qualified dependents of OFWs who are active Philhealth members are entitled to a separate coverage of up to 45 days confinement per calendar year. However, the 45 days allowance is shared among all dependents.
Eligible dependents include the OFW’s legal spouse who is not a Philhealth member, or whose membership is inactive; the OFW’s children below 21 years of age, unmarried and unemployed; and the OFW’s parents who are 60 years old and above.
At present, OFWs pay an annual premium of only P1,200 to enjoy Philhealth coverage. This rate will be adjusted to P2,400 effective January 1, 2013 to allow the national health insurer to improve benefits and expand coverage.
Protection from financial risks
Banzon said a growing number of OFWs, especially those with dependents, are joining Philhealth to protect themselves against the financial risks associated with devastating sickness in the family.
“They recognize that their premiums represent a small but essential investment meant to guarantee them some financial relief in the event of any ailment in the family,” he said.
“We are encouraging OFWs to pay their premiums for the entire duration of their job contracts abroad. This way, the OFW and dependents will be protected the whole time,” he added. - VVP, GMA News