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Insurers, HMOs ramp up support for COVID-19 fight 

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 09:17 PM April 04, 2020
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This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. (NIAID-RML via AP)

MANILA, Philippines — Insurers and health maintenance organization (HMOs) have heeded the call to assist not only their clients and sales agents but also medical front-liners in the battle against COVID-19.

For instance, Sun Life Financial-Philippines Foundation Inc. (Sun Life Foundation) said it will donate 3,000 digital life insurance products called Life Armor to various hospitals in the country.

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The donation of Sun Life Philippines’ philanthropic arm will cover “doctors, nurses, or other medical support staff who are directly involved in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and are registered members of Lazada Philippines,” it said in a statement.

In all, P75 million in life coverage will be received by the beneficiaries.

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Sun Life Foundation also recently donated 3,000 personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical equipment to hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

“Filipinos in the medical field are working doubly hard and putting their lives on the line to protect the rest of us from COVID-19. It is only fitting that we also protect them and look after the welfare of those who are most important to them: their families. We earnestly hope that Sun Life’s simple gesture inspires our health workers to keep fighting because brighter days will soon be upon us,” Sun Life Philippines chief executive and country head as well as Sun Life Foundation chair Benedict C. Sison said.

For its part, AIA Philam Life chief executive Kelvin Ang said the insurer gave cash advance to financial advisors who cannot sell face-to-face amid social distancing restrictions, while also providing advance training allowance for trainees.

AIA Philam Life was also more lenient as far as sales incentives were concerned, giving agents a one-month extension to hit their targets, Ang said.

Also, AIA Philam Life extended the grace period to 60 days for policies with payments due between March 1 and May 31, Ang added.

“For claims, the process has been simplified to speed up turn-around time. And with the suspension of operations of the customer service centers, customers can reach the company through its various digital channels, including the online customer portal, ePlan. They may also reach out to their financial advisors who can facilitate various transactions for them through the iServe digital platform,” he said.

“We would like to reassure our people and customers that AIA Philam Life is with them throughout this difficult time. As the world continues to battle COVID-19, we will do our share by taking care of matters that are within our capacity to do so. For our customers, we will continue to fulfill our commitments and provide continuous service. For our people, which includes our agency force and our third-party service providers on top of our regular employees, we have various programs in place to help address their needs,” he added.

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Ang assured AIA Philam Life employees that they will continuously receive their benefits and bonuses, adding that the company was “also including its marginalized third-party employees in their programs, initially by pushing for the COVID-19 adjustment measures program assistance by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) while its program for the company’s 200 security guards, and 150 housekeeping and messenger staff are still being finalized.”

Separately, an association of HMOs last Friday assured their clients of COVID-19 coverage, with nearly round-the-clock assistance also available for customer concerns.

“COVID-19 is covered and patients in hospitals are treated from the onset of symptoms of severe colds and cough, sore throat, fever, chills, malaise, diarrhea, etc., until they are well and discharged,” Association of Health Maintenance Organizations of the Philippines Inc. (AHMOPI) executive director Carlos D. Da Silva said in a statement.

About seven million Filipinos were currently covered by HMO plans, Da Silva said.

“With a good number of select employees including 24/7 hotline personnel of AHMOPI’s HMOs holed up in their respective offices under strict quarantine parameters, and a lot more working from home manning laptops and dashboards, so far so good as far as real-time service delivery is concerned,” Da Silva added.

Da Silva said AHMOPI was cooperating with the regulator Insurance Commission, which during the past two weeks provided relief not only to industry players but also sales agents and plan/policyholders.

“Despite the rigors of an absolutely necessary enhanced community quarantine brought about by the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country, the HMO industry keeps in step with any and all initiatives to support government and the private sector in dealing with the worsening pandemic,” he said.

“AHMOPI has taken measures to ensure that all IC issuances of late concerning COVID-19 are fully implemented with dispatch. AHMOPI is committed to do our level best in support of government and private sector initiatives, the latter including hospitals, clinics, laboratories and pharmacies, to eradicate COVID-19 in the country the soonest possible,” he added.

AHMOPI counts among its members more than 1,700 institutional health care providers on top of over 40,000 accredited medical specialists across the country.

Edited by JPV
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