First of all, if you’re a foreigner in the Philippines with health concerns, it’s a good idea to evaluate all your health insurance options. It’s also beneficial to check out your health care choices if you’re planning to move or retire to the Philippines. “Philippines Expat Healthcare Insurance” will give you an overview of the healthcare alternatives available to you as a foreigner.
Sign Up for PhilHealth
Maybe you have a Filipino or Filipina spouse. I do. Consequently, my wife signed us up for PhilHealth several years ago. The cost? 2,400 pesos a year, about 50 US dollars. PhilHealth is the Philippines’ national healthcare insurance company.
Because of the new Philippine Universal Health Care bill, there will be some changes with PhilHealth. Once the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the new law are in place, we’ll know what those PhilHealth changes will entail. In the meantime, if you’re married to a Filipina or Filipino and have a valid marriage contract, it would be beneficial for you to sign up with PhilHealth.
While PhilHealth doesn’t cover all of your inpatient hospital costs it definitely is a good value for any medical expenses you might incur. In fact, my wife was afflicted with dengue fever a few years ago and PhilHealth covered the majority of the expenses for her hospital stay. Check out the details by clicking on this LINK.
You can use your PhilHealth benefits at public or private hospitals.
Public & Hospitals in the Philippines
Using a government public hospital is a low-cost way to cover your healthcare needs in the Philippines. In contrast, you won’t always receive the high standard of care you might be accustomed to back in your home country. Be prepared for that. While my wife and I have had to avail of the services provided by our local provincial hospital, the quality of the service varied greatly depending on what physician was on duty at the time.
Years ago, it was necessary to visit the emergency room of our local hospital. It took hours to receive any pain medication. My pain was extremely severe. After an emergency transfer to a private hospital in nearby Iloilo City via banca boat, it was determined that I had kidney stones.
A local physician accompanied my wife and me. The doctor took full advantage of the “skin tax.” His fee for accompanying us was 5,000 pesos, 100 US dollars. During the 15-minute boat ride, the physician informed me that “it was easy to get a medical license” in the Philippines. Frankly, that statement wasn’t very comforting.
While that fee was extremely low by Western standards, the doctor at the Iloilo hospital’s charge for his services was only 350 pesos, 7 US dollars. That hospital’s staff, including the doctor, could not even draw blood from me after five attempts! I had to go to another hospital in Iloilo to have my blood drawn…on the first try.
Some of the physicians in Iloilo City are very competent, however, and were trained in prestigious medical schools back in the States. Normally, such doctors practice in private hospitals in the Philippines, at least in our region.
Philippines Expat Healthcare Insurance Plans
I used an online comparison tool from Pacific Prime to obtain some quotes. Here’s the criteria I used for my search:
I’m older than 60. While I’m actually older than 65, I decided on the 60 figure. At 65, United States citizens who qualify for Medicare can opt into that government plan. However, you can’t use Medicare in the Philippines. You would have to fly to Guam, the nearest U.S. territory to use Medicare.
Here’s an abbreviated version of the price quotes:
As you can see by the chart, the first three companies offer extremely high deductibles.
In contrast, the next quotes from Prime Pacific offer deductibles for 1,350 US dollars and zero deductibles.
The company offering these lower deductibles is A Plus International Healthcare.
I then went to CignaGlobal.com to check out their quotes. I selected a 375 US dollar deductible and listed my age at 55. Of course I stated the Philippines as the country I would be residing in.
The cost for Cigna’s plans did not seem too unreasonable.
The annual costs run from 2,732 US dollars to $4,636. The Silver Plan would be ideal for a single guy who doesn’t impregnate anyone. The Platinum Plan, while expensive, does offer an unlimited annual benefit.
However, with any healthcare insurance plan in the Philippines make sure the hospital you plan to use accepts the insurance.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield?
Years ago I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield from my former employer AT&T. While the hospital in Iloilo City didn’t accept our insurance, I went to another doctor who had a supposed affiliation with Blue Cross/Blue. She was supposed to be able to process my claim. That turned out to be false. However, the 400 US dollars that I had to spend for my kidney stone attack was covered by a medical retirement account plan for AT&T retirees.
Above all, I don’t receive one centavo of compensation for any of the health care insurance options listed in this post. That includes the information coming up from Maria.health.ph. I only want to show you some possible opportunities for health care insurance in the Philippines.
Other Healthcare Insurance Alternatives in the Philippines
Maria.health.ph. offers the following plans on their website:
All-inclusive health coverage and access to Medicard’s network
Starts at 18,850 pesos, 377 US dollars, per individual for one year’s coverage.
All-inclusive health coverage and access to Philcare’s network.
Starts at 16,627 pesos, 333 US dollars, per individual for one year’s coverage.
Here are the available plans I saw on Maxicare’s website along with their related cost. I used age 50 for an individual plan with no dental care.
Platinum Plus Plan
Don’t want to sign up for a year’s contract? Maria.health also offers prepaid cards ranging from 699 pesos to 2,580 pesos. The prepaid cards offer coverage for hospital stays up to 25,000 pesos, emergency care up to 50,000 pesos. The catch? Only specific hospitals accept the prepaid cards.
Philippines Expat Healthcare Insurance
Finally, cost is likely your primary consideration when purchasing healthcare insurance in the Philippines. Compare costs and plans of other companies.
Of course, any quote you receive is based on your age, type of coverage you desire, and if you have any pre-existing conditions.
Consequently, you’re likely to pay a much higher premium if you have any pre-existing conditions.
No matter what company you plan to purchase your health insurance from, make sure it’s a reputable one. Do some research online and check out their consumer reviews.
Again, you can find qualified doctors and hospitals in the Philippines. Ask fellow expats that have already spent some time here. Most of the foreigners on our island province in Guimaras have had to visit the local physicians and hospitals at one time or the other.
Some had good experiences. Some bad. Here’s hoping the best of health to you and yours. However, it’s wise to have some kind of health insurance plan in place. And don’t forget to sign up for PhilHealth. It’s really a value you shouldn’t pass up.