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GIZ, Gov't Agencies & Partners End Regional Consultation Series on Health Microinsurance

The Department of Finance–National Credit Council (DOF-NCC), Insurance Commission (IC) and Department of Health (DOH) recently completed the 5th and final regional consultation on the proposed Health Microinsurance (HMI) Policy and Regulatory Framework in Metro Manila.

Over a hundred participants from public and private providers and practitioners in health and insurance sectors came to weigh and discuss their viewpoints on the draft HMI document. All over the country, more than five hundred from these sectors have put their two cents worth to further enhance the draft.

The participants' inputs are expected to influence and turn the draft into realistic, cost-sensitive and relevant HMI policy and regulatory document that meets the healthcare financing needs of every low-income Filipino, including the informal sectors. The German Development Cooperation (GIZ) through its regional program on microinsurance, the Regulatory Framework Promotion of Pro-poor Insurance Markets in Asia program (GIZ-RFPI Asia) provided the technical and financial support across the regional consultations.

The proposed HMI framework is intended to support the Universal Health Care (UHC) outlined in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP 2011-2016) which safeguards equitable access to health care for all Filipinos, particularly the poor. The HMI framework sets to address the health needs of more than 12 million Filipinos who considered their present state poor according to 2014 SWS survey.

According to Joselito Almario, Director at the Department of Finance and Deputy Executive Director of the National Credit Council (NCC), the Technical Working Group led by DOH, DOF-NCC, and IC, including the health and insurance industry key representatives are working together to address gaps in the healthcare through public-private partnerships via health microinsurance.

"The HMI framework would hopefully augment the Universal Healthcare Program through a viable and sustainable private sector microinsurance industry. HMI is expected to provide every Filipino with greater coverage and wider access to simple, affordable, appropriate and effective HMI products and services", Almario stressed.

At present, health issues remain one of the key concerns in Metro Manila along with poverty and population pressures. It is the second most populated region among 17 regions in the country and seventh most populous metropolitan area in Asia.

NCR, otherwise known as Metro Manila, is comprised of Quezon City, Municipality of Pateros, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela and its capital city Manila. This region accounts for 37.2% of the gross domestic product of the Philippines and remains the premier center for finance and commerce.

Moreover, Metro Manila is known as the Philippine's global power city with 25 million Filipinos who impact various fields in commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. Hopefully soon, it will include inclusive insurance.

Dante Portula, GIZ-RFPI Asia senior advisor explained that about 82% of Filipinos have some form of health coverage; the gap remains wide for healthcare financial risk protection, particularly to the most vulnerable low-income and informal sectors. Philhealth provides basic health care packages but has not covered medical transport, drugs and medical supplies outside of the hospital.

Portula cited the DOH statistics that about 54 percent of the total health expenditure comprised out-of-pocket expenses. Microinsurance responds to the needs and paying capacities of the low-income and informal sectors. Products have affordable premiums, the benefits correspond to the risks, and claims settlement is fast.

Inputs from the consultations will be collated and reflected in the final framework which will be launched to the public in the second quarter of 2015.