US health insurance giant sets up PHL back office

AMERICA’S largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc., has set up a back office in Philippines to provide offshore critical business support services.

“We welcome UnitedHealth’s decision to transfer to Manila various labor-intensive, information technology-enabled business support functions,” said House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo, a key backer of the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines.

“This is yet another strong vote of confidence in Philippines coming no less from a major American corporation in the US Dow Jones 30 (stock market index),” Romulo said.

Romulo said UnitedHealth, ranked No. 22 in the Fortune 500 largest US corporations by gross revenue, has began hiring Philippine staff, including Filipino registered nurses with hospital experience, BPO exposure, and who have active US licenses.

The nurses are being signed up to perform Philippine-based jobs as “nurse associates, clinical quality analysts and clinical managers.”

Romulo said UnitedHealth is also recruiting medical billing coordinators, medical coding specialists, healthcare experts, and customer service associates with BPO experience in a financial account or in handling human resource processes.

UnitedHealth’s move to relegate several business support activities to a new in-house center at the McKinley Hill Cyberpark in Taguig City came not long after Romulo predicted that a new US law enabling more Americans to obtain health insurance would boost the BPO sector in the Philippines.

In October, Romulo had expressed confidence that Obamacare would drive new demand for health insurance-related business support services in Manila.

Obamacare refers to the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will allow an additional 30 million Americans to get hold of health insurance through new subsidies and tax credits to employers and individuals, among other mechanisms. It also mandates reforms to simplify and cut down the cost of health care in America.

Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth serves more than 75 million people worldwide, mostly in America, through a network of 754,000 physicians and other health care professionals, and 5,400 hospitals.

UnitedHealth offers consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to corporate employers in America, public sector employers, mid-sized employers, small businesses, and individuals; health and well-being services to individuals aged 50 and older addressing their needs for preventive and acute health care services; health plans and care programs to beneficiaries of acute and long-term care Medicaid plans; and specialty benefits, such as dental, vision, life, and disability products.

UnitedHealth, which also separately offers IT-enabled health services, last reported an annual net profit of $5.142 billion on gross revenue $101.86 billion, according to Fortune Magazine.

Romulo is author of the new Data Privacy Act of the Philippines, which is anticipated to further encourage global corporations to either establish in-house back offices in Manila, or relegate their non-core, business support activities to independent BPO firms operating here.

The new Philippine law commands all entities, including BPO firms, to protect the confidentiality of personal information collected from clients and stored in IT systems, in compliance with rigorous international privacy standards.

The Philippines’ highly labor-intensive, IT-enabled services industry encompasses contact center services; back offices; medical, legal and other data transcription; animation; software development; engineering design; and digital content.

The industry is projected to produce $27 billion in revenues and directly engage some 1.3 million Filipino workers by 2016.

This year, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines sees the industry generating $13 billion in revenues on a labor force of 764,000.

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