In 2017, around 54.5 percent of total health payments of Filipinos came from their own pockets, generally for medicines. Due to the high cost of these medicines, it will drive out-of-pocket expenditures up, thereby forcing over 1.5 million Filipinos to become poorer because of these health shocks. This, while less than 10 percent of the population has access to health plans beyond PhilHealth.
That is why many Filipinos who seek employment nowadays choose employment in companies that will offer a substantial healthcare insurance coverage. Many companies spend a substantial amount in order to provide healthcare insurance to their employees with the hopes of attracting and retaining valuable workforce.
However, since 99 percent of businesses in the Philippines are Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), offering a comprehensive healthcare insurance coverage to employees will be a challenge because it will entail expenses.
Healthcare for all
HIVE Health, a full-stack digital health insurer, offers hassle-free, comprehensive HMO health plans for SMEs and startups. The company offers outpatient, inpatient, emergency, and dental care through an extensive nationwide network of 1,700 hospitals and clinics, and over 60,000 doctors across the country.
This digital health insurance start-up, founded in Harvard and Stanford Universities in 2021, was created with the mission to make healthcare more accessible in the Philippines and in many other developing countries where there are limitations in social safety nets. “Our goal is to leverage technology and data to make quality healthcare more affordable and easier to use, especially for the underserved SME segment,” said the Stanford and Harvard-educated Jiawen Tang, President and co-founder of Hive Health.
When asked by BusinessMirror if their focus is just on the SME market or for every Filipino, Camille Ang, co-founder and CEO of Hive Health, who also has degrees from Harvard (MBA, Harvard Business School, and MPA-International Development, Harvard Kennedy School), said their current focus is on the SME market. “We realize the pain is felt most there but the SME market is such a big ocean that we can start with, but we are not closing our options,” she said.
With regards to the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Law in the Philippines, Tang, who said they did their Masters thesis on healthcare financing in the Philippines, said that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three pillars to UHC: population coverage or how many people are covered; service coverage, or what medical services can be covered, like medicines, mental health, maternity, which some governments may not be able to provide; and financial coverage, or how much of these benefits can the government provide. “Hive Health can help by being a supplemental partner to PhilHealth and UHC programs.”
Tang added that personally, she would like to add a fourth pillar, which is accessibility. “You can have all these coverages provided on paper, whether the number of people, the number of services, and the financial coverage, but unless it is accessible, unless you have reliable systems, you have a service model, you have the tech-enabled solutions to make these accessible and easy to reach by patients, then we’re not giving them the most out of all the resources available. Hive Health thus sees itself as a partner and supporter of UHC,” Tang explains.
Health-care service made digital
ACCORDING to Ang, Hive Health’s digital platform allows patients and even their dependents to manage their own care with hardly any effort. This includes particularly tedious tasks such as requesting for Letters of Approval (LOAs), which can now be done within minutes so that patients won’t have to worry about queueing in long lines in hospitals, viewing plan benefits, finding nearby providers, scheduling annual physical exams, and accessing medical records. Being digital, Ang said all these can now be done either from their phone or computer.
“We’re also proud of our one-of-a-kind vertically integrated telehealth and care coordination model that bridges virtual and in-person care. Patients can book on-demand video teleconsultations with our team of Hive doctors, who use our in-house electronic medical records system to enable patients to get more accurate diagnoses and access the right care whenever they need it,” Tang pointed out.
Additionally, Ang also emphasized that Hive Health promotes inclusivity for groups such as the LGBTQIA+ and domestic partners, and also offers essential benefits in the areas of mental health, medicines, preventive care, and maternity care.
With regards to SMEs and Human Resource managers, Ang said they need not be bothered by cumbersome paperwork since everything at Hive Health is digital. “Hive Health’s HR dashboard simplifies onboarding and offboarding, streamlines invoicing, and empowers business owners and HR to encourage employee engagement and wellness.”
Transforming health-care access
JUST recently, Hive Health pushed the button to transform healthcare access for Filipinos when it acquired Health Plan Philippines, Inc. (HPPI), one of the pioneering HMOs in the country.
“We have just begun the hard work of making healthcare radically more accessible. The goal is for all Filipinos to feel secure that their health is taken care of, and to give employers a sustainable way to take part in making that happen,” according to Ang. “Hive Health’s journey to date, especially with the acquisition of HPPI, marks a significant milestone, not just for our company but also for the Philippine startup landscape. It underscores the potential of startups like Hive Health to shrink the change and make an impact on intractable problems.”
With this bold but strategic move, Ang and Tang said Hive Health will be able to share its technology and data-driven innovations with HPPI’s existing members, including integrating HPPI’s nationwide provider network and institutional knowledge built across 37 years with its core capabilities to further redefine the patient experience across virtual and in-person care.
“Hive Health has been a valued partner of HPPI given our shared missions. I have seen how the team is able to deliver changes to improve the patient experience much faster than I would have expected, and how they genuinely care about making health-care accessible to more Filipinos. We are excited for the journey ahead as Hive Health and HPPI join forces,” says Natasha Reyes, CEO of HPPI.
With a steadfast commitment to making quality health-care accessible to all, the two young business leaders are definitely on a mission, which is to ensure that all Filipino employees receive the best possible care, starting with their groundbreaking health plans.