Legislator seeks health insurance coverage for OFWs, FCOs and dependents

A lawmaker has filed a bill providing for a health insurance program for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), including all other Filipino citizens overseas, their families and dependents under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Rep. Edgardo Angara (Lone District of Aurora), author of House Bill 6650, seeks to amend Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, by giving highest priority to achieving health coverage of the entire worldwide population of OFWs, including all other Filipino Citizens Overseas (FCOs), their families and dependents.

Angara said as of 2011, there are approximately 11 million Filipinos overseas, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines, 45% or 4.32 million of these are overseas contract workers including 350,000 seafarers, and the rest immigrants of about 2 million.

“Considering their numeric significance and the impact of remittances to the economy, it is of paramount importance that PhilHealth take necessary steps in ensuring that our countrymen currently based abroad – whether permanent, temporary or irregular, including their families/dependents left behind, are accorded with appropriate relevant and affordable health care services,” Angara said.

Under the measure, the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), administered, supervised and operated by PhilHealth, shall provide all OFWs, including all other Filipino Citizens Overseas (FCOs), their families and dependents, with a mechanism to gain financial access to health services in combination with other government health programs.

All OFWs, including FCOs, and their families and dependents shall be required to enroll in the program to avoid adverse selection and social inequality.

The funds to cover the benefits of members, beneficiaries or dependents shall come from a percentage of the remittance fee being charged by remittance service providers, including, banks, telecommunication companies with remittance service, and all other companies engaged in remittance service for OFWs and FCOs.

Within a reasonable time, the service providers shall remit the said percentage to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and shall then be remitted to Philhealth, also within a reasonable period.

All Filipinos overseas shall be covered as long as they are still citizens of the Philippines, regardless of whether or not they are permanent residents or immigrants of a foreign country.

Dual Citizens are also covered, provided that one of the said dual citizenships is Filipino citizenship.

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