Expats Guide: Healthcare and Insurance Tips in the Philippines

Sickness is a fact of life wherever you are, regardless of age. In the Philippines, there are at least 10 diseases considered common and deadly and many of them have to do with lifestyles and eating habits. So it’s better to be armed with healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines in case life and fun here alters the way you live and eat—and your health.


Healthcare Options

First off, you may be wondering about the Medicare you enjoyed back in the US. Is it applicable in the Philippines? No, it’s not, unless perhaps we’re talking of medical facilities in US properties located here, especially if you’re a US veteran.

But there are other good options for expats in Manila. One is get a local health card. One card brand offers it for only a little over Php 670 monthly premiums with an Php 80K maximum benefit limit. You can easily compare prices online and get the best deal.

Getting a health card is actually among healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines that cannot be overemphasized. It deserves serious thought. Health cards cover a huge portion of medical or hospital bills (sometimes they cover everything, depending on the benefit coverage chosen) and often speed up admission to a hospital. Once they see you’re a card holder, you’re in.

Then there’s PhilHealth. It’s the most reliable health insurance in the country primarily because it’s a government healthcare service. The good news is that foreign nationals and ex-Filipino citizens who are back in the country for good can avail of PhilHealth benefits. It’s an agreement forged by PhilHealth and the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) in 2015. Qualified expat retirees who are PRA registered, as well as ex-Filipino citizens, may avail in the Informal Economy category.

PhilHealth can cover from 50 to 70 percent of your hospital bills, depending on your contributions. A lot of hospitals and doctors in the country feel confident with patients with PhilHealth coverage. At least a major portion of the medical and hospital costs will be shouldered by government, and that’s surefire payment for them.


Some Healthcare Service Limits

You’d hear the best healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines from most health card agents desperate to close a sale. You can get ideas from them. But always remember to choose the right health card for you because sometimes, there are pitfalls and hidden clauses.

  1. Rising Rates and Previous Health Conditions

For instance, premium rates may sharply rise once you reach 65 or so (because they’d see you as a risk for the company, meaning you’re becoming more prone to ailments as you age). Make sure you clear these things with them.

Or, will the coverage include previous health conditions? Often, ailments that existed prior to policy signing will not be included if they are discovered only after signing. Cardiac problems and cancer, for instance, can exist quietly for long periods without detection until a certain time. Thus, if medical tests should show that they have been existing since prior to policy signing, they will not be included.

  1. Health Screening

Here are two healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines on health screening. Take care of your health long before you get non-government healthcare services. Second, if you’re already in poor health, you can opt for services that consider ailing clients for higher premiums in case others reject you, which means you have to prepare to spend a lot.

Health screening is a given with non-government healthcare and health insurance. You undergo medical tests for free, courtesy of the healthcare company involved. If tests show you are seriously ill, you won’t be covered. Some minor illnesses are accepted as long as your private physician is willing to vouch for you in writing. What passes for “minor illness” differs with each company.

For ailments that are labeled “risky,” some health insurance companies may be willing to take risks but with terribly hefty premium rates and strict limitations. This option is only for the few privileged rich. Thus, foremost among vital healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines is to start getting healthcare at an early age while illness has not yet set in. Plan your retirement well in advance, like age 45 or earlier.

Which takes us to an important factor in getting a good healthcare deal—age. The younger you are, the more affordable healthcare is. Most companies won’t cover you if you’re past 60. If your age is anywhere near 60 you get covered for much higher premiums.

  1. Higher Rates for Expats

Sometimes expats are perceived as moneyed and can more easily afford medical charges. Hence, some doctors may charge higher fees from your health card, and there’s nothing the health card company can do to help you with it. Cards only make paying more convenient for you, not protect your money. The good news is, you can try personally bargaining with your medical doctor for his service charge.

  1. PhilHealth

PhilHealth is affordable but it also has limits. Unlike health cards that often allow you to be confined in hospitals without cash, PhilHealth needs a certain initial cash deposit before it can work in some hospitals. Anyway, the deposit will be deducted from the final hospital bill.

The amount actually shouldered by PhilHealth varies, and you will often have to add something from your own pocket. You may get more healthcare and insurance tips for expats in the Philippines from PhilHealth by visiting their website.


Best Health Insurance Packages

More people are discovering how some life insurance companies offer better health insurance deals with investment packages. And they even make concessions for “critical” illnesses. The idea is pay certain monthly premiums for life protection, hospitalization and even return of premium benefits.

Life protection or insurance is among the wonder features here. Should anything untoward happen to you during treatment or surgery, your family gets insurance money. And the best thing is, you get all your paid premiums after a certain period, or what’s left of them if you get hospitalized.

Companies that offer these packages are Sun Life Philippines; Manulife; and AXA.










Expats in the Philipppines

Expats in the Philipppines

Expat.com.ph is a platform that aims to help Expats living and working in the Philippines and expats-to-be. It provides free information and also encourages them to share their experiences. Let's help making life in Philippines that much more fun!

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    Pacific Cross Philippines

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