Should you be providing health insurance to your OFS?
Here in the US, having health insurance is required. But it’s not required for companies to provide it.
In the Philippines, it’s not legally required. Private health insurance is a perk for businesses that can afford it.
However, Philippine companies must get their employees Philhealth, their socialized medical system. You’re not required to give this benefit as a foreign employer, but it’s one of those things that you should give because it can help with hospitalization when your OFS gets sick.
We provide an addition to each OFS pay to cover their Philhealth payment.
We’ve also been offering our Filipino workers health insurance through an HMO (health insurance organization) for several years now. We did this so our OFS team would have something they could use for check-ups, preventive care, and outpatient procedures.
I’ll be using the terms HMO and health insurance interchangeably here because they’re practically the same in the Philippines. The main difference is the size of the network, fees, and coverage (HMOs are bigger).
Because we don’t have an entity in the Philippines and our OFS are considered independent contractors, we can’t give them health insurance directly. Instead, we asked our team to research the best HMOs/health insurance in their area. We let them pick the one they each wanted to use. HMOs are different in different regions of the Philippines. Hazel (our HR) coordinated with the HMOs and the team to manage their paperwork. They pay the initial premiums, and we reimburse them.
The cost depends on the HMO provider, the age of the plan holder, and the coverage. It costs on average P20,000 ($390) per year per plan holder.
I can’t tell you which health insurance is the best. It depends on a lot of factors. What you can do is have your OFS go to this website (https://www.mariahealth.ph/). It’s the most popular health insurance aggregator in the Philippines. Businesses and individuals can get private health insurance either as a contract or prepaid card through their website.
Our team is not under group insurance because we don’t have a base in the Philippines. They have to apply as individuals. I agree this puts us at a disadvantage because individual health insurance is more expensive compared to group insurance but not by much.
The biggest problem we encountered with this setup is that individual health will ALWAYS have less coverage than one given to a group. The cap on their health benefit is usually lower. When one of my OFS got sick, we had a hard time having her surgeries covered because it’s only been a year since she got her health insurance. But the longer they stay on the health insurance, the better their coverage becomes (at least for the HMO she signed up for).
You do NOT need to provide this. If your OFS is short term, it doesn’t even make sense. But if you find you have an amazing OFS (or amazing team) and you want to better take care of them, this is a great (and super reasonably priced) way to do it.