By RODOLFO ESTIMO JR. | ARAB NEWS
RIYADH: The first Middle East office of the Philippine health insurance agency PhilHealth is to be opened at the Philippine Embassy on June 4.
According to Philippine Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor, the opening of the office will coincide with the celebration of the country’s 112th Independence Day celebration.
Philippine Independence Day is on June 12 but celebrated by the Filipino community in the Kingdom for weeks.
“Riyadh is where the largest number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can be found in the Kingdom. It is just right that they be given,” PhilHealth President and CEO Rey B. Aquino told Arab News. In an earlier interview, Villamor said there were some 600,000 OFWs working in the capital alone.
PhilHealth’s service desk will address members’ needs and provide forms and information about the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).
It will also accept benefit claims, applications for member data amendment and annual premium contributions from OFW members of up to 900 pesos. “If they pay their premium contributions regularly and on time, our OFW members will not encounter any problems in claiming PhilHealth benefits,” Aquino said.
PhilHealth also covers costs arising from hospital room and board, operating room fees, the provision of drugs and medicines, X-ray and laboratory tests, examinations and doctors’ fees.
These should be automatically deducted from the hospital bill before the beneficiary is discharged.
PhilHealth will also reimburse medical costs for members who need to be treated abroad.
Aquino said this is one of the reasons why PhilHealth provided more collecting agents for OFWs to pay their premiums regularly so they do not lose out.
Presently, PhilHealth has collection agreements with iRemit, Development Bank of the Philippines and Philippine Veterans Bank, among others.
“I will also authorize the assigned PhilHealth marketing officer in Riyadh to attend and participate in the meetings and dialogue of OFW organizations to provide free reintegration seminars for our compatriots in the region,” Aquino added.