PH Urges US: Allow MEDICARE access for American retirees

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The Philippines is negotiating with the US government to allow the portability of its medical and health insurance for Americans and Fil-Ams, who would like to retire in the country.

Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo, who recently led a Philippine delegation in Washington D.C. for the annual review of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and the Strategic Dialogue (BSD), told reporters the Philippine delegation had brought up the issue of the US government’s MEDICARE during their bilateral talks.

At present, the MEDICARE, which is the US national social insurance program, cannot be availed of by Americans who are in the Philippines. Americans can only use their private medical insurance when they are living overseas, but not the government MEDICARE, which is a federally-funded medical insurance. 

In 2010, Medicare provided health insurance to 48 million Americans. It was the primary payer for an estimated 15.3 million inpatient stays in 2011, representing 47.2 percent ($182.7 billion) of total aggregate inpatient hospital costs in the United States.[2] Medicare serves a large population of elderly and disabled individuals. On average, Medicare covers about half (48 percent) of the health care charges for those enrolled.

But its non-portability has hindered Americans and Fil-Ams to come back here and retire for good because they cannot avail of their medical benefits.

“They cannot use MEDICARE here and ifever they can there are lots of restrictions, but American retirees need it here for emergency cases,” he said.

“Imagine the Fil-Am communities alone, they are big and if they retire here with MEDICARE benefits they will spend their money here,” he said.

Fil-Ams comprise about 3.4 million people, or 1.1 percent of the US population. They are the country’s second-largest self-reported Asian ancestry group after Chinese Americans according to 2010 American Community Survey.

While Americans will incur savings because it is cheaper to spend their money here, they will also bring in their purchasing power that will benefit the retirement and other service providers.

“We can also tie this up with medical tourism,” he added. The Philippine proposal though requires action from the US legislature since this would mean amendment to the US MEDICARE Law.

“This will take longer discussions because it requires changes in US  law,” Ceferino said.

“We are working on this together with the Fil-Am communities, Department of Health and Department of Tourism. We are still working on it because this is a long discussion but we make it a constant part of the BSD agenda,” he said.

The DTI is pushing for the portability of the MEDICARE under the auspices of the BSD, which tackles broader issues and long term policy solutions as it is being spearheaded by the State Department.

 

The DTI is trying to elevate important issues to the BSD that could not be addressed through TIFA. BSD covers broader issues s and its imprimatur is deemed crucial for long term strategic policy solutions on broader. BSD, which is spearheaded by the State Department sort of reinforces what are being addressed or cannot be addressed in the TIFA. -  Contributed by Eric Lachica for www.usmedircareph.org