MANILA, Philippines — While those who work for health insurance providers and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have been exempted from the movement restrictions during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Insurance Commission (IC) has issued guidelines to ensure safety of these professionals.

As follow-through to the IC’s Circular Letter (CL) No. 2020-33 issued last week, which included HMOs as well as life and non-life insurers with health insurance products as part of health frontline services, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa added mutual benefit associations (MBAs) that also offer similar services to be exempt from the ongoing enhanced community quarantine.

“The IC recognizes the necessity of allowing MBAs to maintain operational capacity for processing of claims arising from death of their members considering its volume, as well as the need to service the marginalized,” Funa said in CL 2020-39 dated April 9.
Bu while employees of health insurers, HMOs and MBAs may leave their houses to go to work, Funa also issued CL 2020-40 last April 9 to serve as guidelines for their exemption.

For one, only a skeleton workforce—defined by the IC as “essential personnel” not exceeding 10 percent of total workforce—will be allowed per company to process claims and serve customers.

A certified list containing names of each member of firms’ personnel working as among the skeleton crew must be submitted to the IC, which will in turn issue a certification authorizing them to render service.

“Stringent qualifications criteria shall be observed in selecting the [skeleton force], preferably the young, the strong, the healthy and the skilled personnel,” the IC said.

As such, the IC prohibited including pregnant women, workers aged 54 and above,employees with underlying medical conditions and COVID-19 symptoms, as well as those exposed to persons under investigation (PUIs) or under monitoring (PUMs) in the skeleton workforce.

The insurance regulator also reminded wearing face masks, physical and social distancing, hand hygiene, thermal scanning, and disinfection of workplaces, living quarters and shuttles while regularly monitoring personnel’s health, especially for COVID-19 symptoms.

Also, the IC enjoined providing transport arrangements, meal and lodging provisions, flexible work arrangements such as reduced work hours or work-from-home, and rotation of personnel and open branches to ensure safety of the skeleton workforce.

Edited by JPV


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