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. It is available to Filipinos and their dependents (foreign spouses included.)
Healthcare Costs in the Philippines. We Finally Enroll in PhilHealth
I have excuse for not having my spouse sign up for this 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 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?
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.
Signing up for PhilHealth
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.