MANILA — Filipino health care professionals as well as the Philippines’ booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry will benefit from America’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the US Supreme Court has just upheld, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said Saturday.
“We expect the ACA, or Obamacare, to stimulate America’s demand for Filipino nurses, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech pathologists and other health care workers,” said Romulo, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.
Obamacare basically means that millions of lower middle-class Americans who currently do not have any health insurance protection will enjoy subsidized coverage, according to Romulo.
A greater number of Americans will now have access to health care, especially hospitalization, thus creating new demand for such services,” Romulo said.
“Simply put, the US hospital industry is bound to boom, and so will their demand for foreign staff,” he added.
In the past, US hospitals struggled financially as they were forced to write off the unpaid bills of uninsured patients.
For years, the Philippines has been America’s chief supplier of foreign health care workers, mostly nurses.
The veteran solon also said he expects Obamacare to drive US health insurance companies to aggressively expand their back offices in the Philippines.
“US health insurers will be under pressure to slash operating costs in order to stay profitable. They will have no choice but to relegate more jobs to the Philippines, where labor and other costs are lower,” he explained.
“They will be compelled to transfer more contact center, insurance claims processing, clinical support analysis, medical coding, and other non-core, business support jobs to the Philippines,” he added.
Romulo authored the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which has helped to attract global corporations to either establish new in-house outsourcing units in the Philippines, or to convey their business support activities to highly specialize independent BPO firms operating here.
The law mandates all entities, including BPO firms, to protect the confidentiality of personal information collected from clients and stored in information-technology (IT) systems, in accordance with rigorous international privacy standards.
The Philippines’ highly labor-intensive, BPO and IT-enabled services industry includes contact center services; back offices; medical, legal and other data transcription and coding; animation; software development; engineering design; and digital content.
The IT and Business Processing Association of the Philippines sees the industry yielding up to USD26 billion in annual revenues and directly employing some 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.