Healthcare Costs in the Philippines. We Finally Enroll in PhilHealth.

Filipina nurse e

Our healthcare costs have approached a little over 1100 US Dollar since moving to the Philippines in July 2009. Not a substantial amount considering those expenses have included a couple of emergency room visits, one of which was for a kidney stone attack I suffered in February 2010. This past Wednesday  my asawa and I were enrolled in the Philippine government-sponsored health insurance program, PhilHealth,  available to Filipinos and their dependents (foreign spouses included.)

Bridget Suarez Sexy Nurse

 (Photo by © All Rights Reserved from Flickr.)

I have absolutely no valid excuse whatsoever for not having my spouse sign up for this beneficial and extremely affordable plan (only P1200 a YEAR for both of us) when we first retired to the Philippines. I will just blame it on pure laziness, and the fact that I am adjusting to Filipino Time more and more. If not for my wife’s nagging asking me about it last week, we probably still wouldn’t be enrolled.

We have health care insurance from AT&T, where I retired with full benefits,  after almost 30 years of service, but I can’t use it in the Philippines. But it doesn’t cost me anything, and if we ever have the need for any major surgery, we’ll just have to fly to the States to take advantage of it.  

Another retirement benefit I have from my former employer, is called a Health Reimbursement Account, HRA, in which AT&T pays me for any medical expenses not covered by my insurance. Since I have not been able to use my medical plan in the Philippines, as mentioned earlier, I have been reimbursed for over 1,100 USD worth of claims. A total of $2,000 was deposited in this HRA from AT&T so I have over 800 dollars to draw from it yet.

Only takes up three weeks for the payment from the HRA to be directly deposited in my bank account in the States, so that was another excuse for my delay in having my asawa sign up for PhilHealth.

Just what is PhilHealth? According to Wikipedia, The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was created in 1995 with the aim of placing a renewed emphasis on achieving universal coverage. In 2010 PhilHealth reported it that had enrolled 86% of all Filipinos.

This social insurance program  serves as the means for the healthy to help pay for the care of the sick and for those who can afford medical care to subsidize those who cannot (we less fortunate family members in the Philippines who do not have to pay anything for this program.) Both local and national government agencies allocate funds to subsidy the indigent.

After being admitted to Great Saviour International Hospital in February 2010 for my kidney stone attack,  we had to pay a 10,000 peso deposit upfront before I could even be admitted. This is standard practice with the majority of hospitals in the Philippines.

I am advised by my asawa, that even with PhilHealth, we will still have to pay those upfront costs for any possible future hospital admissions. But we will be reimbursed by the program for a portion of those expenses depending on the illness we would be treated for. The plan also covers certain medical procedures. For only 1200 pesos a year, I don’t see how we can go wrong.

I simply downloaded the membership form at the health insurance company’s website, only one page in length and simple to fill out. Attached a NSO, National Statistic Office, copy of our marriage contract and my wife’s birth certificate along with her Philippine passport for ID and a copy of my ACR-I card, Alien Certificate of Registration.

Took the form to the local regional office in Iloilo City located near Robinsons and right next to the Santa Teresita Church.  In less than 15 minutes my asawa had her new PhilHealth card with me as a covered dependent.

We just went to the Kodak photo shop in the  nearby Robinsons and had a 1″x1″ photo (for 60 pesos, 12 pics)  taken that she affixed to the card and had the entire thing laminated for 6 pesos. That whole photo process took twice as long as it did to obtain the actual card itself from PhilHealth.

I was extremely impressed by the fast service and efficiency of the local office. My asawa actually paid for an additional year, 2013, in advance, with the cost being so reasonable. 2400 pesos for almost two years worth of healthcare insurance? That’s only 120 bottles of Red Horse but probably a much better investment. I’m sure my spouse would agree with that statement.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

37 thoughts on “Healthcare Costs in the Philippines. We Finally Enroll in PhilHealth.

  1. Good article, Dave. I am always amused by the number of fellow expats who prefer to argue back and forth about the supposed advantages/disadvantages of PhilHealth rather than getting themselves on the bandwagon.

    Just one hospitalization will pay for it, usually many times over. Example, my father-in-law’s (sadkly) last hosptialization, back in December 2011, came up to over P194,000. His PhilHealth coverage paid more than P30,000 total, in much needed cash.

    Not that much, some might say, but considering “Daddy” had free coverage because he was over 70, I’d call it a pretty darn good rate of return.

    In particular those with aging relatives ought to make sure the old folks sign up … it’s free to Senior Citizens and it provides a first line of defense.

    While I won’t dispute what your wife says regarding deposits for admission (confinement as we call it here, makes a hospital sound like Alcatraz)), in my own experience our local hospital has always accepted PhilHealth in lieu of a cash deposit … invaluable for those middle of the night emergencies. Deposits are under the purview of each hospital’s business office, and like everything in the Philippines, YMMV.

    Those with household helpers should sign up their help and pay for PhilHealth for them also, IMO, because it’s not only the right thing to do, again IMO, but because if a helper gets ill or hurt while employed by you, most of us don’t have the stones to just kick her out the door to crawl back home or find a bush to die under.

    Highly recommended.

    1. Thanks for your input, Dave. I questioned (in my own mind, and not directly to my asawa) the fact that the hospitals would accept the PhilHealth in lieu of a cash deposit. That’s good to know. We had to pay that P10,000 in the middle of a night for my kidney stone attack, and that PhilHealth card would have come in handy.

      Sorry to hear about your father-in-law, but that P30,000 payment from PhilHealth surely did come in handy. It’s a no-brainer for me. For the cost, it just makes sense to sign up for it. I just should have done it a lot sooner. Good tip for signing up the hired help on the plan, also. Our laundry lady only works one day a week for us, but when we start getting the big bucks (hopefully) from Uncle Sam at the beginning of 2014, we will probably be hiring a maid to work on a daily basis. Thanks again, Dave.

    1. Randy, as Lee has already answered, “yes,” you can. However, if you are married to a hot-tempered Ilongga woman as I am, that has access to very sharp bolos, I would not recommend hiring one that looks as hot as the one whose picture I posted. You might just find your “pee pee” missing in the middle of the night. 😀

  2. Dave, yet another attractive reason to retire to the Philippines!

    Randy, yes you can pick your own nurse, I did and after that silly fiancee visa I brought her to the US and married her! (most would consider my nurse more fortunate looking than the one from chickbabes posted above) and I get to see the faces of my friends after they ask “where is she from?” because I tell them the truth, she is from Zamboanga! Sorry for being a bragger.

    1. Ahh Zamboanga – home to my favorite Filipina Singer – Demz Espinosa from Maldita! I’d drag my balls through ten miles of broken glass just to hear her piss in a tin cup over the telephone!

      1. Paul, I found an old YouTube video from 2009 with Demz and Maldita. If the group ever gets over this way, we’ll have to stop by for a listen. But I have to be honest with you, I’m not dragging my balls ten miles over broken glass for anyone, brother. 😛

        1. HAHA Dave. That’s an old quote from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith that I remember reading years ago. I forget who he was talking about.
          Yeah, I was watching that video earlier today. Funny that you posted the same one. Demz is the girl on the left – no makeup – just with the voice of an angel. I first saw Maldita on ASAP Rocks last May. Demz was wearing these hip hugger jeans and a shirt tied around her waist – wicked sexy, all made up and looking pretty. I searched YouTube for that video and the only one on there from that show (that I could find) was one that someone obviously recorded of their tv set while watching the show. Oh well, better than nothing. Here it is:

          1. Oh yeah and by the way, thanks for posting this about PhilHealth, you made me check with my wife about her parents. I wanted to make sure they had insurance. Her mom’s had some health issues lately and we’ve helped with the medical bills. I just wanted to make sure they did have insurance, and they do – through her dad’s retirement plan from his previous employer.

            1. Good to hear your wife’s parents have medical coverage, Paul. Hopefully your mother-in-law health will improve. It’s great that you helped out. Even though, we’re no longer supporting the family back in Guimaras as such, my asawa goes their bi-monthly to bring some groceries and supplies to Tatay. Plus, our niece and nephew that go to high school in Guimaras, will be spending their summer vacation with us. Should be interesting.

          2. Great quote, Paul. Steven Tyler sure rips off some funny stuff on American Idol. Checked out the link, thanks. Well, next time we ever get to Manila we’ll have to check the band out. Beautiful girl, Demz, with a beautiful voice.

        2. Maldita plays a lot around Manila supposedly because their management is based there. Trying to figure a way to fit that into our travel plans this summer. I believe they play every Wednesday ) what my wife tells me). I know they do travel around and have done mall concerts. Found some videos of those on YouTube as well.
          I’d love to manage this band though – just to tell them to play some more rocking songs. The balads are pretty but they have a couple of more “rocking” songs, but need more.

      2. Paul, I have this theory about Zamboanga: it may be a little more risky to visit, but I think there is something in the water because so many beautiful women seem to come from there?

        1. Well, Lee, I’ll have to sit down and do a post about ladies from Zamboanga versus Ilonggas since I married a beautiful Ilongga myself. Might just spark an interesting debate and give me a good excuse to do some research on the topic. 😀

          1. Dave, please do. We (the viewing audience) will study such an article very closely, science and geography require it! AND don’t forget the entertainment value (we want pictures too!)

            1. I’m “working” on it as we speak, Lee. Got delayed because I spent yesterday welcoming back Brother Tom and his buddy Frank from the States. Said welcome involved several chillled buckets of San Miguel Pale Pilsen and numerous rounds of B.S.

  3. Dave, thanks a lot for the update about Philhealth, if my memory serves me right, that was the Pag-ibig Health Program in the 90’s. That’s one of the important things I will do when I ‘ll go home, to apply for Philhealth membership. It’s a great help for us. You help a lot of Ilonggos especially those planning to retire in the Philippines. Godbless.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rey. I’m glad to help. I love living in Iloilo, a great place, and I certainly love the Philippines (but don’t miss that Metro Manila traffic :D)

  4. Hey Dave, my asawa tells me that her mother (81yo) was turned down for enrollment a while back because of her age. I’ve visited the PhilHealth site and it isn’t very explicit in who does and does not qualify. The way I understand it, you either qualify as a paying member or a dependent of a paying member. Could not find any disqualifying information. Do you know anywhere else I could go for info? Thanks.

    1. No, I don’t right now know another source. I see from the current PhilHealth site:
      that there are five categories of members. I made an error when I said that there was a blanket program for the elderly. My parents-in-law, who were both in their 80’s when they passed were covered because they had atotla of 120months under GSIS (Philippine Social Security) paid employment in the past.

      Those lderly who have no income and no GSIS coverage _may_ be covered by local government contributions, or contributions by other agencies (or individuals, such as relatives … which I still recommend).

      I have not heard of an age cutoff for joining, but I’ll dig into that a little further.

      One thing about becoming old in the Philippines, native-born or foreigner, is that there are upper age limits for many things … commercial health insurance also cuts off around 75 or 80, unlike the US where age discrimination is often not allowed, in the Philippines, it’s often the law.

      Reminds me often of my old governor in Colorado, Dick Lamm, who became famous and committed political suicide by telling the elderly they had a “Duty to Die”.

      1. Thanks for the info, Dave. Don’t know of any cut off date for the age requirement either. And as for age discrimination in the Philippines, you’re exactly right about that. It exists on many different levels here. However, I do have some kano friends that state they got a senior discount card when they turned 60. Have to check that out.

    2. Randy, I’m with Dave Starr. Can’t see anything on the PhilHealth website that would disqualify your mother-in-law because of her age. We signed up as private members and this is what the website has to say:
      who are qualified dependents

      “The following also enjoy PhilHealth coverage without additional premiums for each dependent:

      Legal spouse (non-member or membership is inactive)
      Child/ren – legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged and illegitimate (as appearing in birth certificate) adopted or step below 21 years of age, unmarried and unemployed. Also covered are child/ren 21 years old or above but suffering from congenital disability, either physical or mental, or any disability acquired that renders them totally dependent on the member for support.
      Parents (non-members or membership is inactive) who are 60 years old, including stepparents (biological parents already deceased) and adoptive parents (with adoption papers).

      All of your qualified dependents shall be entitled to a separate coverage for up to 45 days per calendar year. However, their 45 days allowance will be shared among them.”

      All I can see is that the parents have to be 60 years old.

  5. Dave,
    Thanks so much for the info about Philhealth. Will probably get that along with a private policy. Dave Starr posted some healthcare providers on his site awhile back and there was one that covered just the Philippines for approximately $1200.00 per year and for anywhere in the world for $1900.00 per year. They seem to cover alot. Take care my friend

    1. Dave has got a lot of good info, Papaduck. You just have to marry that new G/F of yours and get your health care coverage here for 1200 PESOS a year instead of 1200 US Dollars. 😀

  6. I kept on coming back checking and re-reading this article Dave because who knows I might just stumble upon the name of that pretty nurse you have here hahaha

    1. Jonathan, the “nurse” is a stunning Filipina model by the name of Bridget Suarez. “Google” her name and you will come up with some interesting photos. If she was my actual nurse, I would still be a patient in that hospital. 😛

    1. Glad to hear you made it, Scott! Looks like The Sainted Patient Wife and I won’t be making it over, finances prohibit it as I’m trying to save money for that airline ticket to visit my Dad in Vegas for his 80th birthday. Hope the weather clears up for you. Looks like rain today in the Western Visayas, but it’s cooled things off. Have a great visit.

  7. hi dave. good day. i have an online american boyfriend and he plans to come home here to live. he have health problems so i need to make sure he’ll get proper care once he gets here. are there anymore health insurance company that you know we can apply to?

    1. There are many health plans available for expats, marie, but nothing as reasonably priced as PhilHealth which only costs us P1,000 a year and covers both my wife and I. Here’s a LINK to BrokerFish, an online company, which will give your boyfriend different coverage options and the monthly costs. I have no affiliation with this company. If your boyfriend is retired military then he would probably be eligible for military healthcare benefits such as TriCare.

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