The value of health care and health insurance for SMEs

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By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, Special feature writer

Health insurance in the Philippines – whether through the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) operated by government, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or private health insurance providers – exists to financially secure and help Filipino workers access quality health care.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has not only affected employees’ physical health, but also their mental well-being. Therefore, in this time of global pandemic, the value of access to health care and health insurance becomes more apparent.

Many companies are able to provide health insurance to their employees as part of their health care benefits. Health insurance could lead to additional costs for businesses and employees, as premiums are partly covered by the employer but are also often deducted from an employee’s salary. This makes it difficult to be offered by some small companies.

Franz Joie Araque, executive vice president and head of Cocolife Healthcare, also pointed out that financing healthcare programs could be a challenge for small businesses.

FRANZ JOIE ARAQUE, EVP and Director of Cocolife Healthcare

“Healthcare expenses were cited as one of the costliest benefits employers provide to their employees. Budget constraints caused by the pandemic have posed challenges for most companies, more so for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to allocate funds for their healthcare program,” said Mr. Araque. Business world.

The COVID-19 crisis has obviously had an impact on MSMEs. Due to temporary business closures, some MSMEs recorded no sales or revenue in March 2020, the first month of lockdown, according to a rapid survey of MSMEs nationwide conducted from late March to mid-April 2020 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Meanwhile, some of those who continued to operate during the lockdown have seen their sales and income drop. And even though the country’s economy has shifted to the recovery phase six months after this March lockdown, the AfDB noted that MSMEs still face a sharp drop in demand and income.

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Philippine economy, as they accounted for 99.51% of the total 957,620 business enterprises and 62.66% of total employment in the country, according to data presented by the Department. Commerce and Industry (DTI) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Therefore, protecting the health of people working in the MSME sector is important to sustain and stimulate the economy.

Fortunately, there are health insurance products in the Philippines that are specifically designed or customizable enough to meet the needs of small businesses. So what can health insurance really do for MSMEs?

The cost of several health services can be quite high. Therefore, the main purpose of health insurance is to help a person avoid bankruptcy by dealing with health issues. Although getting health insurance may not give a person a large sum of money to spend on their health all the time, it could at least help them pay for the various medical services they need.

But before we go over the business benefit of offering health insurance, what are some of the actual benefits or coverage one can get from PhilHealth, HMOs, and private health insurance?

PhilHealth provides hospitalization benefits, as long as the healthcare facility to which one is admitted is a partner of PhilHealth. It also offers outpatient services, including outpatient surgery, radiotherapy and haemodialysis. PhilHealth also provides Z benefits and sustainability benefits listed on its website.

HMOs, on the other hand, also cover inpatient or outpatient services, basic surgeries, and other ancillary services such as lab tests and medications. An HMO provides access to healthcare services to its subscribers through its network of healthcare providers.

Although an individual is often the one who voluntarily purchases private health insurance, some companies also offer it to their employees. Cocolife’s group life, accident and health insurance plan, for example, has customizable and flexible coverage that provides access to services such as inpatient and outpatient care, preventive care, emergency services and dental coverage, among others.

Some health care programs specifically designed for SMEs are available even for those with a team as small as three or five employees.

A large part of the business benefits that SMEs can obtain by providing health insurance relate to their employees.

Christopher Tan, Vice President – Head of Sales and Marketing, Cocolife Healthcare

For Christopher Tan, vice-president and head of the Sales and Marketing department of Cocolife Healthcare, among the advantages for SMEs of offering health insurance, there is a better rate of recruitment and retention.

“Increasingly, employees see health insurance as a major consideration for joining or staying with a company. Health care plans are seen as a security blanket, especially in this time of a pandemic,” Tan explained.

He added that health insurance could benefit SMEs in terms of providing peace of mind for employees, promoting employee satisfaction and loyalty, and protecting against potential financial loss due to unfortunate incidents requiring medical attention. and hospitalization.

Additionally, Mr. Tan believes that SMBs offering health insurance could see an improvement in employee morale and productivity.

“It should be a priority to ensure employees are physically and mentally healthy so they can be productive. A happy and healthy employee is a productive and fulfilled employee,” he added.

Mr. Araque and Mr. Tan assured businesses that health insurance providers would help them by purchasing health insurance tailored to their business and needs.

“Companies have high expectations when they get quality health insurance. They normally prefer to work with an insurer that can provide the most comprehensive benefits and is able to address all of their employees’ health issues at the most cost effective. Most companies are looking for value for money,” Tan explained.

As the cliché goes, “You can’t put a price on your health.” “With this in mind, our intention is to help SMEs by designing tailored programs based on industry and nature of work, capabilities and focusing on issues that can build long-term customer loyalty,” said he added.

Mr. Araque, meanwhile, told SMEs that in choosing the best health insurance for them, they should look for financial stability, a wide network of providers, as well as flexibility and accessibility.

“Cocolife will assist and collaborate with businesses on how we can design and deliver a sustainable and effective healthcare benefits program that meets business requirements and capabilities,” he also said.

Cocolife Healthcare is one of the nation’s favorite healthcare providers. It has access to more than a thousand clinics and 700 hospitals, and more than 50,000 doctors and institutions. Cocolife is also one of the main group insurance providers.

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