COVID-19 patient gets help for hospital bills from a prepaid card

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Nov 09 2020 08:53 AM

MANILA - He thought he contracted Dengue.

COVID-19 Patient 109 was rushed to the emergency room of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) after several days of running a fever. He was sent home after tests were done, and he decided to use a Prepaid Health Card to pay for his medical expenses.

“I bought my first Prepaid Emergency Care plan because I quit my 9 to 5 job and my friends and I established our own company. It seemed like an affordable solution I could easily apply to without the usual hassles of getting a yearly ongoing comprehensive health plan,” recalls Patient 109.

Married with 2 kids, he bought not only for himself but for every member of his family. His Insular Health prepaid card cost P1,750 and he paid an extra P700 so it will cover the top 6 hospitals which are: Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City and BGC, and The Medical City.

His hospital bill reached about P7,000, which was small relative to the maximum P100,000 coverage of the ER Care plan. It was still a good deal though as he saved over P4,500.

“I had my doubts that a prepaid insurance plan might be hard to claim, or a hassle to use or that approvals might take long,” admits Patient 109. Happy to be proven wrong, he immediately applied for another Insular Health ER Care plan. “I wanted an immediate fall back in case another emergency happened.”

That turned out to be a good investment because in the following weeks, he learned that he did not have Dengue but was positive for COVID-19. “I battled pneumonia at home in isolation under the supervision of my doctors through the phone. But when a room opened up at St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC, I was admitted.”

Patient 109 stayed in the hospital for 5 days and this time, he was able to maximize the coverage. After he got discharged, “I purchased another prepaid plan for future emergencies and have been thinking of availing a non-prepaid higher level plan from Insular Life.” Having discovered the convenience of owning one, he now recommends it to family and friends.

Is a Health Prepaid Card a good buy for you?

While it was the right choice for Patient 109, before buying, make sure to read the terms and conditions. There are plans for children, adults and seniors, and each have exclusions, which are usually pre-existing or congenital conditions.

Patient 109 bought all his prepaid cards from Insular Health which currently offers 13 variants in its website. Insular Life as the first Filipino life insurance company is a familiar brand, but its Health Care arm only launched its prepaid health plans in 2019.

According to president and CEO Noemi Azura, “We have seen strong sales as early as January this year, even before COVID-19 was on the news. It was expected, because January tends to be a seasonally peak month for flu, given the cold weather. However, sales shot up significantly from March onwards as the spread of COVID-19 continued.”

While some of their prepaid cards cover viral and bacterial conditions, Azura explained that their healthcare agreements do not cover diseases under epidemics and pandemics, which is the classification for COVID-19.

“We have decided however, to cover COVID-19 ex-gratia, as a complement to the Philhealth coverage for humanitarian considerations and in support of the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act. The ex-gratia COVID-19 coverage of our Emergency Care solutions addressed the market’s demand for an affordable health coverage that can be conveniently purchased online,” explains Azura. 

This ex-gratia coverage explains why Patient 109 was able to make his claims, and is good until year-end for now. The company will review further extension and announce plans if any.

A quick scan of Insular Health Care products showed they were affordable, ranging from a low of P700 to as high as P11,750. You can shop online and choose from their Emergency Care series that covers treatment for emergency cases due to accidents and viral/bacterial cases, and the MedConsult series that offers medical consultations in person and remotely via the becoming popular telemedicine.
 
Insurance purchase can sometimes be painful with all the forms to complete and having to go to their office to submit them. Azura is quick to point out theirs is a pain-free process. “The customer’s search, purchase, payment and beneficiary registration journey is 100% digital at www.shop.insularhealthcare.com.ph. 

After successful purchase and registration, the client will receive health vouchers through email. Initially, our clients expected to receive a physical card but they soon realized the convenience of receiving health vouchers instead of plastic cards.” 

The purchase and registration take less than 5 minutes and customers can pay with a credit card, or with 14 partner banks over the counter and online, or with as many as 12 non-bank over the-the counter (money remittance, department stores, pawnshops etc.) and 7 e-wallet options. 

“Clients just need to present an image or printout of the health vouchers to our more than 1,400 partner clinics and hospitals nationwide and get the medical coverage according to their prepaid plans,” adds Azura.

As we all adjust to life with COVID-19, Azura offers a good wakeup call or advice to today’s consumers. “Based on the insights of a recent market research, the COVID-19 Pandemic served as an information campaign on the importance of healthcare. 

The consumers’ rediscovery on the value of health and wellness should not be limited to the pandemic period but should continue in the long run. The consumer must prioritize healthy living, first and foremost to boost their immunity against diseases. 

And second, to put healthcare coverage in the list of their essential purchases, to make sure that they and their loved ones are always protected.”

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.