LOCAL health maintenance organizations (HMOs) saw their net income grow by almost double to P1.56 billion in the first quarter on the back of lower benefits and claims, the Insurance Commission (IC) said.

HMOs’ combined net profit went up by 95.6% from P797.6 million in the first quarter of 2020, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa said, citing the latest unaudited financial statements from industry participants.

He attributed the increase to lower expenses reported by companies, which went down by 9.24% year on year, as health benefits and claims fell by 15.6% to P7.6 billion in the first quarter from P9 billion in the same period last year.

The industry’s total equities climbed by 94% to P15.14 billion from P7.8 billion a year ago supported by higher retained earnings, which made up 77.9% of HMOs’ overall equity.

Amid reduced collections from membership and enrollees’ fees, HMOs reported lower revenues at P12.79 billion in the first three months, down by 2.9% from P13.17 billion the year before.

Meanwhile, total liabilities grew by 20.4% to P51.42 billion from its year-earlier total of P42.72 billion.

Combined assets of the industry hit P66.56 billion as of March, rising by 31.8% from P50.51 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

Mr. Funa said the growth was driven by higher cash and cash equivalents, which accounted for more than half of overall assets.

HMOs released P3.98 billion in coronavirus-related payouts so far, or nearly half of all the pandemic-related payouts issued by the industry worth P8.25 billion from March 2020 to June of this year.

“HMOs have a unique place in our country’s fight against the pandemic as frontliners and have become a strong and dependable partner in ensuring that our country’s healthcare needs during these uncertain times are addressed,” the IC chief said. — Beatrice M. Laforga