MANILA - The Insurance Commission (IC) has issued a cease and desist order against health maintenance organization (HMO) Caritas Health Shield to keep it from selling new HMO products and transacting new businesses.
The order was issued after the commission received 672 complaints from clients of the HMO alleging unauthorized swiping of credit and debit cards by Caritas Health's sales agents.
Clients also complained to the IC that the services they received were not what was promised them by the sales agents.
The commission said Caritas Health needs to address the complaints before the company can be allowed to get new clients.
"For the cease and desist order to be lifted, the company must show to us that it implemented ways that will address the allegations against the agents or the sales associates of the company," said Atty. Joanne Frances Castro, officer-in-charge of the IC's Licensing Division.
However, the commission also clarified that the cease and desist order does not apply to Caritas Health's obligations to current members.
"Ang ang ibig sabihin po nito, kailangan pa rin serbisyuhan ng Caritas Health Shield yung mga members po nila," Castro said.
(This means Caritas Health Shield still needs to serve its members.)
Caritas Health, meanwhile, denounced the cease and desist order.
The company said the complaints of unauthorized swiping of debit and credit cards represented only 0.58 percent of total plans sold from 2016 to 2019.
It also said that it has "sufficiently addressed practically all such complaints to the satisfaction of the complainants."
"On June 17, or even before the issuance of said Order, we have stopped the operation of our mall marketing units that gave rise to these complaints and have notified the Commission accordingly," said company president and CEO Mariano Katipunan in a statement.
The company was saddened and surprised by the Commission's order, he said.
Caritas Health figured in a controversy 2 years ago over complaints from some members that they could not use the HMO's health card.
Caritas Health, however, said it had addressed these complaints.