OWWA, PhilHealth team up to offer new medical aid for OFWs
About 24 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are set to benefit from the supplemental medical assistance program being offered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in cooperation with PhilHealth.
OWWA Administrator Rebecca Calzado and PhilHealth president and CEO Alexander Padilla inked a memorandum of agreement for the new one-time financial assistance program dubbed as MEDplus on Thursday.
All OFWs who are members of both the OWWA and PhilHealth are eligible for MEDplus.
Approved by the OWWA Board of Trustees in September 2015, MEDplus will be available to OFWs diagnosed with and subsequently hospitalized due ailments that require long-term care.
"Chances are, those afflicted with these kinds of diseases can no longer work [or] they can still work pero walang kasiguraduhan ang kanilang tuloy-tuloy na pag-trabaho," Calzado said.
MEDplus will match the benefit granted by PhilHealth to its members "under its case rate system" and may grant OFWs financial aid until they max out the P50,000 limit, which could be spread across multiple treatments.
"If they're found qualified, they can continue to claim hanggang umabot po sa total amount of P50,000... for the same type of disease," Calzado said.
Qualified OFWs who apply for MEDplus must submit the benefit claims notice (BNC) from PhilHealth to OWWA to receive aid.
OWWA will then use the BNCs to verify claims and look up OFW profiles on My PhilHealth, the online portal used by PhilHealth and its members to check their membership status with the insurance agency.
Filipinos abroad who wish to avail of MEDplus may send their hospital records to their kin in the Philippines to undergo the same process mentioned above.
"Kung kunyari nagkasakit yung ating OFW abroad, at meron man silang insurance, let's say meron silang private insurance, ang mangyayari po dun babayaran ng private insurance nila but they can claim sa PhilHealth yung ginastos din nila sa ospital abroad based on Philippine rates," Padilla explained.
Those without insurance may still apply for MEDplus.
Over 300 medical and surgical procedures qualify under MEDplus. Among the diseases included are chronic kidney disease, ecephalopathy, and ischemic heart disease with myocardial infarction.
Calzado said the implementing rules and regulations for MEDplus will be submitted within 60 days from the MOA signing.
MEDplus will be implemented by September or October.
OWWA director Albert Valenciano explained that OWWA will "assign personnel in OWWA regional offices located in all 18 regions of the country to implement the MEDplus program."
Calzado said MEDplus "is an important addition to the existing range of benefits and services already provided to OWWA members" such as disability and death benefits.
OWWA released a total of P6.9 million for disability benefit claims of 289 members and P103.5 million for next of kin beneficiaries of 771 deceased members from January to April 2016.
OWWA sourced the P150 million initial budget for MEDplus from the $25 biannual contribution of its members. The budget may increase if the need arises next year. —KBK, GMA News