Philippines Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats

Philippines healthcare systemTop-class healthcare is one big reason that attracts many expats to the Philippines. A few of the hospitals in large cities have the best doctors, apparatus, and technology. However, health services in rural areas lack the most basic amenities. Also, Filipinos broadly believe that healthcare in their country is expensive. Expats, on the other hand, find it affordable compared to what they pay for it in their home countries. Here’s what you need to know about the Philippines’ healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.

Expats can procure international health insurance before arriving in the Philippines or even after they have arrived in this beautiful country. This covers a major part of their medical expenses at any private hospital across the country.

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Overview of Healthcare in the Philippines

Healthcare in the Philippines ranges from excellent to standard across different regions. Hospitals in major cities, in general, have high standards. In contrast, the infrastructure in most of the rural medical facilities needs drastic improvements. The Philippines offers healthcare in both private as well as public hospitals. Even though it is usually costly for the native population belonging to the middle-class, expats are likely to find it affordable.

The local medical workforce is highly competent, especially those working in big cities. Most professionals are fluent in English. They are also highly qualified with experience in practicing abroad. The bulk of the medical staff from the Philippines works abroad. The money sent home by these workers has a significant share in the Philippine economy. Nevertheless, the state of healthcare in the Philippines has deteriorated. This is due to the many medical professionals working abroad. Expatriates will find the best health options in Manila, given that it is the capital.

Every citizen has the right to free healthcare under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). Subsidies from both local and central authorities, along with contributions from staff and companies, drive this government-backed scheme. 

How the Philippines Healthcare System Works for Expats

Philhealth is a government-run enterprise that looks into public healthcare in the Philippines. It provides grants for various treatments. These include inpatient care and non-urgent operations. Despite that, this does not include all medical treatments and related expenses. Expats working in the Philippines must compulsorily register with Philhealth. The enterprise gets its funds from employers, employee salaries, and the state. Resident expats may freely register with Philhealth.

Public Healthcare in the Philippines

Manila City Guide - Expat Insurance

All working citizens must compulsorily join PhilHealth. This requires them to contribute 2.5% of their income to this scheme. Their employer contributes the same amount.

People living below the poverty line can register for the system free of charge. The local government individually determines who is ‘poor.’ Retired senior citizens can avail of free enrolment. However, this only applies to those who have contributed to the scheme for at least ten years. Others must subscribe to it via an individual enrolment program. More than 70% of the population depends on public healthcare services for its medical needs.

Private Healthcare in the Philippines

In the Philippines, private healthcare is much in demand. Major towns like Manila have numerous private hospitals with advanced facilities. Private healthcare is of high quality, and a majority of expats depend on this sector. Yet, these facilities are quite costly. In comparison to the cost of healthcare facilities in hospitals of western countries, the Philippine medical system is much more affordable. Since every visit to private hospitals is chargeable, a private insurance plan is a good option.

It is preferable to talk to your employers about a private health insurance policy before you relocate to the Philippines. This is necessary to check whether your remuneration covers you and your family members, thereby keeping the premium easy for you to manage. Most of the expats in the Philippines travel to Manila for medical examinations and therapies because of the superior quality of healthcare facilities offered there.

Emergency Medical Services in the Philippines

Seasoned professionals in medical and surgical care manage top-of-the-line healthcare services in the Philippines. However, the quality of service provided varies in different regions. Numerous state-owned hospitals divert the more severe emergency cases to specialized centers. This may prove expensive and difficult to access, especially for underprivileged patients.

A large number of private setups and also some third-party government ICU services offer world-class facilities. You can avail emergency help services in the Philippines by dialing 112 or 117 from a fixed-line telephone. Since most Filipinos speak fluent English, communicating with the operators is hassle-free. 

Medicines and Pharmacies in the Philippines

The Bureau of Food and Drugs sanctions every medicine sold in the Philippines. Large cities have many pharmacies, and so do rural areas. They are easily accessible, too, as the signs usually read in English. There is a 24/7 pharmacy in nearly every avenue of big cities. A large number of supermarket chains also sell basic non-prescription medicines.

Philippine authorities are strict about the purchase or sale of prescription medicines. Hence, in case of ongoing treatment for an already existing medical condition, you must get a written prescription from your home-country physician and also ensure that it has the generic name of the drug.

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats Living in the Philippines

As an expat, you will need a comprehensive health cover during your stay in the Philippines. There are many affordable options from leading international insurance companies like Cigna Global. You must have an international health insurance plan before you move here. Having comprehensive international health insurance gives you easy access to all private hospitals and clinics in the country.

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