Expat Medical Emergencies in the Philippines. Will the U.S. Govt. Help?

ambulance leaving guimaras provincial hospital

In my previous post, I listed how the U.S. Government could help you if you end up broke in the Philippines. This post deals with a related topic:  Expat Medical Emergencies in the Philippines. Will the U.S. Govt. Help? Here’s some advice straight from Travel.State.Gov:

Filipino Hospital Standards

The State Dept. website advises that “adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided in the United States.”

Adequate Hospital Care not Close

The Travel.State.Gov website goes on to say that “Medical care is limited in rural and remote areas.” That’s true.

While we do have a local provincial hospital about 15 minutes away in Guimaras, our island home province, its facilities are extremely limited.

Furthermore, we live at least 45-60 minutes from any major hospital in nearby Iloilo City.

A ride to the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras would take about 20-25 minutes in an emergency situation.

At the Jordan Wharf, you would have to catch a ride with a pump boat. In an emergency, you would certainly want to hire a boat for your individual party at a cost of 500-600 pesos. Boats are available during the evening.

The trip to Ortiz or Parola Wharf in Iloilo City, depending on the weather, will take about 15-20 minutes.

A ride to the nearest hospital could take 15 minutes or so, depending on how soon you could catch a taxi and on traffic conditions.

You can see that in the case of a heart attack or major life-threatening accident, I would be D.O.A.

In addition, the government site points out that traffic patterns in Manila may prevent first responders from reaching persons in need.

medicus hospital iloilo city

Three Valid Points

Also,Travel.State.Gov further states that hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The website also brings out three extremely valid points:

  • Most hospitals in the Philippines will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission.

  • In some cases, public and private hospitals have withheld lifesaving medicines and treatments for non-payment of bills.

  • Hospitals in the Philippines also frequently refuse to discharge patients or release important medical documents until a bill has been paid in full.

ALL OF THIS ADVICE IS TRUE.

We personally have had to pay deposits of up to 200 U.S. dollars to even get admitted to a hospital in Iloilo City years ago when I had a kidney stone attack.

Though it is illegal, many hospitals will also try and “imprison” you and not allow you to be released from their hospital until your bill has been paid in full. Again, we’ve personally experienced that.

More from Travel.State.Gov:

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

(However, take note of the following : In most situations, Medicare won’t pay for health care or supplies you get outside the U.S. The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Medicare.gov)

A flight to Guam is around two hours. An option if you need long-term care but it won’t help in an emergency.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the medication is legal in the Philippines and to obtain clearance to enter the country with it. Carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Expat Medical Emergencies in the Philippines. Will the U.S. Govt. Help?

FC 728 90 - Expat Medical Emergencies in the Philippines. Will the U.S. Govt. Help?

Nope. However, take their advice and be prepared.

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.