Several measures have been filed in the Philippines’ recently adjourned 16th
Congress seeking to protect citizens via expanded coverage and to lower the insurance taxes charged from premiums paid.
Lotto earnings for health insurance
One such measure filed is House Bill 72, which aims to require the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the national lottery operator, to allot its entire charity fund for universal health care under the national health insurance program, administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
“The bill warrants a just and equitable distribution of this government’s money grounded on the needs of people,” said Representative Anthony del Rosario, the bill’s author.
Currently, 55% of PCSO’s earnings are paid as lotto winnings, 30% goes to charity, and 15% goes to operating expenses and capital expenditure.
Mobile device insurance
HB 403 aims to require telecommunications carriers to offer insurance for mobile phones, tablets, and other similar devices purchased from them. The bill requires each carrier to inform customers about availability of device insurance whenever they make a purchase.
Expanded coverage for crops
Meanwhile, Rep. Arthur Yap filed HB 418, seeking to strengthen the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) by expanding coverage and increasing its funding. A significant portion of Filipinos rely on agriculture, and the frequent typhoons and other natural disasters greatly affect their livelihood.
The bill proposes that the government-owned casino operator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation set aside 0.5% of its profits to augment the government’s crop insurance programs. The PCIC subsidizes up to 65% of premiums, but can afford to cover only 5% to 10% of the risks related to crop production. It cannot compete with private insurers, which can cover up to 65% of costs.
Reduction of insurance premium taxes
HB 3225, filed by Rep. Karlo Nograles, seeks to lower non-life insurance premium tax from 5% to 2%.
According to Nograles, previously, both life and non-life insurance policies had a premium tax of 5%. A law was passed lowering the tax on life insurance premiums to 2%, so HB 3225 plans to do the same with non-life insurance.
According to a study by the University of Asia & Pacific, every 1% reduction in premium has a corresponding growth in sales of insurance policies. With lower taxes, more Filipinos are able to afford insurance, which goes back to the government with higher revenue.