More Medical Costs. Return to our Iloilo City Doctor

Returned to Iloilo City this past Monday so the results of my asawa's medical tests, the ultrasound and blood test, could be seen by her physician, Dr. Jacobo. We didn't schedule an appointment but since we had to pick up results from the healthcare clinic located in the J and B III Building where the general practitioner's office was located and had some shopping to do, my spouse sent a text message to what she thought was his secretary. Received a reply shortly thereafter from Dr. Jacobo himself stating that we could come by later in the afternoon at 3 pm. The Sainted Patient Wife had mistakenly sent the text to the doctor's personal cell phone. Little did I know at that time that the medical costs for some prescriptions my asawa needed would be so costly,  and that our wait would be considerably longer than we had anticipated. DSCStopped by the Jollibee at SM Delgado in Iloilo for a Champ Burger breakfast (hold the mayo) for myself and spicy Chickenjoy for my asawa. She was paying, and I was pleased. It was only 10 am so we had a lot of time before our appointment. Didn't make sense to go back on the pump boat to Guimaras Island and come back later. We wanted to make sure that all of the medical tests were scrutinized by our physician. My asawa had not had any pain in her abdomen recently, which was the reason for our visit to Dr. Jacobo originally. I was concerned because the ultrasound results revealed a small kidney stone. And I wanted to make sure her blood test and cholesterol levels were fine.

Decided to head out to the Robinson Mall (more on that visit in a future post) instead of our usual hang out,  SM City. Had only been there about two years ago, and didn't stay very long. We didn't care think they had adequate air con before, but after we entered the shopping center we noticed a good flow of cool air and decided to check out what movies were available at the cinema. I didn't feel like walking around for the next five hours as I was suffering from a cold and sore throat.

Took a taxi to the doctor's office around 2:15. The cab reaching the J and B III only two blocks away. We had no idea we were so close and could have easily walked. Went into the healthcare clinic to pick up one of my wife's medical test results and took the elevator to Suite 204, Dr. Jacobo. His office door was closed, and we sat in the hot hallway for about 15 minutes. An elderly lola arrived, opened the door (which we had not tried to open, thinking the office would not be open until 3 pm) and followed her in. An air con was pumping cool air into the room as the receptionist retrieved some plastic chairs from another room so we could sit in comfort along with the group of patients already waiting.DSC

Seems the doctor had been called away on an emergency. One of his patients had suffered a heart attack, and our physician was at a local hospital in Iloilo City trying to stabilize the man. Didn't get back to his office until around 3:30 and there was a long line of people ahead of us. Got called into his office approximately 5:00. He apologized for the delay, and began looking at my asawa's blood test results. Everything looked fine. Scanned the ultrasound results and prescribed two different medications to shrink the small kidney stone. Also wrote out a prescription for Fosavance which was to be taken once weekly and would help The Sainted Patient Wife absorb  calcium.

SPW takes a daily dose of Caltrate faithfully, but without the new medication, most of the calcium she was getting from the supplement was being wasted, according to her general practitioner. Had no idea what the medical costs would be but decided to use the pharmacy in the healthcare clinic on the ground floor since we were advised their rates were very reasonable. My asawa asked how much half of the prescription for the two medicines which would shrink the kidney stone would cost. She was quoted the price of 4,800 pesos, almost 113 US Dollars. With our costly huge Fiesta being celebrated at the end of this month, my asawa decided to wait until next month to purchase the medication. It not within our budget to be able to purchase the medication today.

Dr. Jacobo had said that the kidney stone might not even cause a blockage, and the ultrasound doctor at the Guimaras Island Clinic said my wife would be alright if she just drank a lot of water. She called the kidney stone a "crystal." The pharmacy did not even carry the Fosavance so we stopped at two other drug stores but had no luck in locating any. It was beginning to get dark, and I did not want to stay in Iloilo City overnight. We needed to catch a pump boat back home before the last one left for our rural province. Walked several blocks over to the Mercury Drug Store near Mary Mart Mall where my wife purchased her mother's high blood pressure tablets, and they had the medication in stock. After handing a 1,000 note (23.65 US Dollars) to the pharmacy clerk she was advised that the cost would be P910 pesos (21.52 USD) for only TWO TABLETS! Talk about your outrageous medical costs!

Well, my wife did not want to ask for her money back. I asked her what good a two week supply of the medicine could possibly do. I'll just have to submit the cost along with the doctor's bill of only P350 (8.27 USD) to our health insurer provider back in the States and hope we get reimbursed. I've got three claims into the company which compensates us for medical fees we incur in the Philippines, but none have been processed yet. Once that money gets deposited into our bank account, we'll have the funds we need for the kidney stone medication. I personally feel that this is an expense that has a much greater priority than a fiesta, but the two day celebration is such an important part of the culture in the Philippines, that I cannot convince my asawa to use the money for her prescriptions. According to her, the fiesta comes first.  And after being married for over 11 years to my wonderful, but stubborn, Filipina, I know there is no way I am going to change her mind.

17 comments

  1. Hi Dave,
    We usually check the Rose Pharmacy first on the bottom floor of Gaisano first for prescriptions because they are usually a little cheaper. The more expensive meds I have found that Mercury drug (across from the Lapaz Public Market) usually has what I need in stock.

  2. Hi Dave..sorry to hear about your Wife and hope things be ok…..sounds like you might have a up hill battle on her getting the meds…..I mean {kinda joking here} You said the festive festival to her was more important..and I just remembered that Christmas has started all ready in the Phillipines! So..could be some interesting stories when or if or what if your Wife gets her meds….But sure it will all work out in the wash….

    1. Thanks, Dan. While I really think that getting the meds for the kidney stone is more important than the fiesta, I am fighting an uphill battle for sure.
      And yep, Christmas has started in the Philippines. Heard plenty of Christmas carols at SM City and Robinson Mall the other day. Saw a lot of Christmas decorations. Only in the Philippines! 🙂

  3. Hi Dave – we buy all of our medications at The Generics Pharmacy, and the costs are usually about 80 to 90% less than other drugstores. I just checked their website and found that they have 20 locations in Iloilo.

    Good luck to your wife!

    1. Thanks so much, Bob. We’ve passed by some Generics Pharmacy in Iloilo but never stopped in. We absolutely will check them out when we return to buy my wife’s medications. I really appreciate the information.

    2. Bob, with medications at The Generics Pharmacy being 80 to 90% less than other drugstores, have you ever had problems with them being expired or fake?

      1. Hi Lance – not at all. In fact, if you think about it…

        If you were making pirated “fake” drugs, would you make fake brand name drugs that were P40 per pill, or you you make them generic drugs that were P4 per pill? Well, frankly, it would not be worth your time to make drugs that you were to sell for P4 when you could get P40! So, if you think it over, you will probably reach the same conclusion that I do.

        Fact is that I have been using the Generics Pharmacy for several years now and have never had an out of date drug or a fake one. I am diabetic and have to take several medications for that. One of the main pills that I take costs like P45 per tablet at Mercury, and it us less than P5 at Generics. The minimum savings on the drugs that I use is 50%. Most are much more than that, with 75% being common, and some up to 90% less.

        1. Hi Bob,
          Actually, I saw a news report on counterfeit medications and they were also finding a lot of “fake” generic medicines because they are easier to copy than brand name ones. (They tended to have very little of the active ingredient though.) To make the higher profit on “fake” brand name medications required a more sophisticated manufacturing setup. (These higher priced fakes tended to have the ingredients of the generic versions and the same packaging as the original brand name drug.)

          Glad to hear that you havent’ had any problems with out of date or fake drugs in the Philippines. It could cause serious health issues.

          1. I’ve seen those reports, too, Lance. I believe that for the most part, the major drugstore chains in the Philippines are fairly safe places to purchase your meds. I’m glad to hear Bob’s report that the Generics Pharmacy is a trusted place to go. We’ll be checking them out this Friday when we take the pump boat to Iloilo.

        2. Bob, thanks so much for the information. We’re definitely going to check the pharmacy out. My wife buys a monthly supply of high blood medication for her mother, and I’m betting we can save a lot of money at the Generics Pharmacy. If you have been going to this chain of pharmacies for years, that sounds like a good recommendation to me. I’ve never heard of any problems with “fake” drugs associated with their chain. But I would definitely not buy any meds from a street vendor. Also some local drugs stores in Guimaras sell steroids without prescription which my sister-in-law bought for my asawa when she had a knee injury. Her knee had a dark bruise the size of a basketball the next day, and the doctor in Iloilo said the medicine could have eventually killed her. I put my trust in places recommended by those I trust, and you’re certainly one of those people, Bob.

  4. hey dave,didnt you have a cold when you first started this endeavor,just curious because it seems when i lived there in dipolog city i would always get a cold.Why so many colds?

    1. Yep, I did have a cold, Scott. Now I’ve got another one, this one worst than the first. I posed the question to The Sainted Patient Wife: “Why so many colds? In retrospect, I wish I wouldn’t have, because I got “The Lecture.” The germ lecture. My asawa reminded me that I never wash my hand after handling money here, I shake hands with the porters at the dock who she says never wash their hands after peeing, plus there is the recent “bread wrapper incident.” I used the wrapper of my wheat bread to lay out a couple of slices on. Needed to spread my peanut butter and guava jam on it. Thought it would reduce the bread crumbs left on the counter which I have received previous lectures on. My asawa had a fit: “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOUCHED THE OUTSIDE OF THAT BREAD WRAPPER?” she shrieked. Since I had no idea how many hands might have touched it, I replied in the negative. She was irked.
      Anyway, SPW says conditions are cleaner in the States than in the Philippines and more people wash their hands in America. There are more germ opportunities here according to her. Listen, I would take dropped food off the floor back in the States and eat it, and I do it in the Philippines, too. That irritates her to no end. That said, I will continue to shake hands with the porters, put my fingers to my mouth after handling money, but WILL refrain from placing slices of bread on bread wrappers. 🙂

  5. hi dave,yeah i understand the germ thing. When leaving a public bathroom I grab a paper towell to grab the door handle,and when eating out and you grab the soy sauce or ketchup bottle you know it loaded with germs.

    I know a few expats whom carry around a bottle of rubbing alchohol making sure to clean there hands but thats just to much for me,might as well wear surgical gloves all day.

    When i was in the hospitol in manila for motorcycle crash the nurse was starting to put the needle in my arm for an I.V and i stopped her and said,are you going to dissinfect my arm before you stick the needle in?the nurse replied with,OOPS yes, sorry.

    Also when in hospitol they were running 2 bags of IV in me allready in one day and i asked them whats in the IV and they said nutrition so i said stop with the IVs because i dont want to pay for them and they say sorry sir you need, so whenever they left the room i would take the little flow restrictor that adjusts the drip and shut it off and when they would come back i would turn it back on and they finally figured out i was messin with them so they took the IV out.Take care dave

    1. My asawa carries that sanitizing gel around with her everywhere she goes, Scott. However, she has a purse big enough to carry a VW in, but it’s much smaller than the one that could carry a jeepney. 🙂

      Interesting and scary story about the nurse and the I.V. needle. They had those IV’s stuck in me when I had my kidney stone attack last year. Sounds like you outsmarted the staff. Good man. A person has to exercise some extreme caution like you did when receiving any medical treatment in the Philippines. Quite a bit different experience than what you would find in the States. That said, my wife and I were extremely fortunate to find a good doctor in Iloilo thanks to my fellow expat friend, Paul.

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