Is PhilHealth Available for Foreigners?

Is PhilHealth available for foreigners? On May 21, 2015, PhilHealth, the national health insurance company of the Philippines,  released the following bulletin: “The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will soon provide health care benefits to foreign nationals and former Filipinos who wish to retire in the country.”

This development came about as it formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Philippine Retirement Authority, PRA, in Pasig City.

Under the agreement, the PRA will facilitate the enrollment of foreign nationals under the Informal Economy member-category of PhilHealth.

“We intend to cover each and every Filipino, whether retiree or not, foreigner or Filipino,” PhilHealth President Alexander A. Padilla was quoted in Filipino.

PRA General Manager and CEO Veredigno P. Atienza thanked PhilHealth for its support to help the agency attract more foreign nationals to permanently reside, retire and invest in the country.

If you are currently unemployed or either self-employed, you can register as an Individually Paying Member. This is also being referred as “voluntary member.”

To become a member, you must submit the following requirements at the Philhealth office near you.

(If you are a FOREIGNER living in the Philippines, you can also become a member classified under this type.)

  • PMRF (Philhealth Member Registration Form) – Accomplished and properly filled out. This form can also be downloaded online for free.
  • Photocopy of NSO, National Statistic Office, authenticated Birth Certificate or valid IDs or any supporting documents to prove identity (required for Filipinos.)
  • Photocopy of supporting documents for your beneficiaries (My wife, a Filipino citizen, only had to submit an NSO-certified copy of our marriage contract in the Philippines.)
  • Photocopy of Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) issued by the Bureau of Immigration (for foreigners only.)

  • You will then be given and issued your Philhealth Number and will be asked to pay your contributions.

Keep your PhilHealth Number because this will be used for life.

Make sure you will be paying your premiums continuously to ensure you can take advantage of your benefits at any time. (Source: Philpad)outpatient entrance guimaras provincial hospital

Don’t be a slacker like I was. We moved to the Philippines in July 2009 but did not sign up for PhilHealth until March 2012! At that time it only cost us 1200 pesos to sign up, and that included benefits for both my wife and I.

At the time we were relying solely on my  Health Reimbursement Account, HRA, we received from my former employer, AT&T. I was reimbursed for all of our medical expenses, including a few kidney stone attacks I had after moving here.

Though we have to be admitted as a patient to receive our PhilHealth benefits, I really cannot fathom why we did not take advantage of this Philippine national health insurance sooner.

To further add to my stupidity, we let our coverage lapse at the end of 2013 and did not renew it again until August 2014. We had no insurance for eight months.  We paid until the end of December 2015. 1,200 pesos for the remainder of 2014 and P,2000 for 2015.

For an old geezer that preaches common sense, I sure don’t follow it at times.

That said, we knew after my wife’s recent bout with dengue and pneumonia, that we needed to renew our PhilHealth membership for the next two years ASAP. Sure, we could make quarterly contributions, but for the low cost, it makes more sense for us to pay two years at a time.

When my asawa was discharged from our local provincial hospital I asked our local PhilHealth office if we could renew our membership in Guimaras, the island province we call home. Or would we have to travel to Iloilo City as we had done in the past?

The PhilHealth employee told me we could renew it at the local Guimaras office but would have to pay the membership fee at the Land Bank. We have a Land Bank nearby.

So we went to the Guimaras office yesterday to renew our membership. The same employee gave us almost the same information as she did last week but this time mentioned that if Land Bank couldn’t take our payment we could go to LBC. We weren’t given a form to fill out nor told the cost to renew for two years.

We went to the local LBC office since that’s where we pay our Cignal satellite bill every month.

As I sat in our air-conditioned Ford Ranger XLT my asawa went inside LBC. A few minutes later she came out with a form. I was under the mistake impression that LBC was set up to handle PhilHealth payments. They’re not, at least not in our local office.

I asked my spouse: “Do you really want me to go inside so I can get aggravated?”

But I went inside, nonetheless.

There were questions on the form that we had no idea what to answer so we walked out. We both decided it would be easier to take the pump boat to the PhilHealth office in Iloilo and renew AND pay at the same PhilHealth location as before, something which our local Guimaras office is evidently not set up to do. We didn’t want to bother checking out Land Bank.

So before the end of this year we will be taking another pump boat ride to Iloilo City and renew our membership. My loving wife reminded me that’s what she wanted to do in the first place.

I’m not going to let it expire again as I have in the past.

Just doesn’t make good common sense.

(Thanks to Derek and Todd whose comments prompted this post.)

16 comments

  1. Dave, I truly believe that PhilHealth is one of the best deals on the planet. It is so inexpensive and it usually pays at least 50% of the bill and in some cases all of it!

    2400 pesos a year for fairly solid health insurance. That is one helluva deal. I tell my American friends how much it cost and they don’t believe me.

  2. Hi Dave, I’d urge everyone to join philhealth because you never know what’s round the corner, I hope I never have to use it but it’s best not to take chances with your health
    Take care ,Derek in pasig.

  3. Hi Dave,
    From my understanding you do not renew your Philhealt membership you are a member for life all you have to do is pay your dues promptly to avail the benefits. I pay in SM or western union just fill up the forms ( name, philhealth number and number of months you want to pay). Thanks

    1. Yep, you’re right, Gezel. We are members for life. We go to the main office in Robinsons in Iloilo since we go to Robinsons to do shopping at times. I should have never let our dues lapse before but it won’t happen again. 🙂

  4. Dave,
    Philhealth is a good deal for the price. But it usually covers less than 50% of a bill in a private hospital. So we have Blue Cross to supplement the Philhealth if we have a major medical problem. Blue Cross covers 100% hospitalization.

    1. We had problems with Blue Cross when we first moved to the Philippines over six years ago. I went to the main office in Iloilo and couldn’t get the bill for my initial kidney stone attack covered. Thankfully, my HRA from AT&T did cover the bill, as I later found out.

      That said, thanks to ObamaCare , our health care premiums on my retirement account costs us too much money per month now to make it a viable option here. AT&T used to offer healthcare plans for retirees that were free. Not any more. While I still have other benefits from AT&T, I opted out of the healthcare plan and now only use PhilHealth, which covers more fees in a provincial, government hospital, but not private ones as you stated.

  5. Private hospitals in the Philippines are fine….but WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY overpriced. You can get really really good care at many public hospitals.

    My fiance and I had an experience last year at Makati Medical. She cut her finger bad, really bad. I took her to Makati Medical, the care was really good. But they wanted to keep her overnight and then do surgery in the morning on a cut finger! The doctor estimated the bill would be around 60,000 pesos and even told us we could probably get the finger taken care of at a private hospital for much less.

    My fiance agreed. She told me we should go to the public hospital in Das Marinas Cavite. So we did. The TOTAL cost for the cleaning of the cut, the stitches and all that was 3000 pesos! The finger healed fine. I am happy the doc at Makati came clean and told us it might be better to go somewhere else, and I am happy my fiance agreed. There is a helluva difference between 3000 pesos and 60,000 pesos.

    I am not saying to NEVER go to a private hospital, but think about it before you do.

    1. I agree, Todd. We were sent to a private hospital when I had my first kidney stone attack in 2010, the Guimaras Provincial Hospital didn’t have an x-ray machine working at the time. We went to Great Saviour’s in Iloilo which didn’t turn out to be such a great Saviour. They couldn’t even draw blood from me there after five attempts, two of them from a doctor.

      We will be going to the local public hospital in Guimaras after seeing what a good job they did with Melinda. Maybe Papa Duck has found a good private hospital and since his Blue Cross can cover what PhilHealth doesn’t, it probably works out for him. But in the long run, for the average Filipino, the public hospitals are your best bet. Private hospital care is out of reach for many.

  6. I am thinking that the next time we visit the Philippines (Spring 2016) that we should just sign up and that way we are already in the system. Is there any reason we can’t do that, since we won’t be living in the Philppines until 2017?

    1. As long as you have an Alien Certificate of Registration, ACR, card, you should be OK as far as I can tell, DaveW. I don’t think it matters to PhilHealth if you leave the PH and come back. But that’s only my opinion.

    1. Welcome, Hen. I don’t believe you will be able to use PhilHealth the day after you pay if you are a new client or if you have let your dues expire. When we renewed our dues a couple of years ago we had to wait a couple of months, December, until we could use PhilHealth. I believe they go by which quarter you are in since many people pay their membership dues every quarter. Best to check at your local office, however, to find out for sure.

  7. What if i am a foreign citizen residing in the philippines and do not have an ACR, can i still get philhealth? I am planning on applying for recognition though

    1. Hi, Jen. According to all the information I have seen you will need an ACR. If you are currently unemployed or either self-employed, you can register as an Individually Paying Member. This is also being referred as “voluntary member” by some. To become one, you must submit the following requirements at the Philhealth office near you. If you are a foreigner living in the Philippines, you can also become a member classified under this type. One of the requirements for a foreigner is a photocopy of your Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) issued by the Bureau of Immigration.

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