The Philippine healthcare system has been growing for many years, and its major cities have state-of-the-art public and private hospitals. However, coverage under the country's health system, PhilHealth, is relatively limited, prompting most expatriates to take out more suitable international health insurance.
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Health insurance for expats in the Philippines
The health insurance system in the Philippines
The Philippine health system, called PhilHealth, covers the country's employed and self-employed residents and their dependants. Unemployed persons can also join voluntarily.
Notwithstanding the coverage, insured persons are subject to significant waiting periods for the reimbursement of their hospitalisation costs. They must provide proof of:
- Regardless of their status, that they have paid contributions for at least three months in the six months preceding the outpatient treatment provided in hospital (except for surgical procedures);
- If they are self-employed or voluntary contributors, at least 9 months of contributions in the 12 months prior to hospital care.
In addition, their hospitalisation costs are limited to 45 days per year. In the event of a serious illness (cancer, risk of premature child delivery, medical care for children with disabilities, etc.), they can apply for more extensive coverage, what are called "Z Benefits", for care provided in specific facilities; to do so, they must still have at least 1 day of hospitalisation left from their annual package of 45 days, and must submit a certain number of supporting documents and certificates.
How to choose health insurance in the Philippines: local or international?
PhilHealth holders benefit from coverage in all accredited health establishments throughout the country, whether public or private. It operates in the form of partial direct billing, with the covered sums being paid in part directly to the health establishment and the remainder reimbursed to the insured afterwards.
That said, there may still be some out-of-pocket expenses, particularly in the case of care provided in private health establishments, where prices are higher than in the public sector (although they remain extremely moderate compared to other countries).
In order to benefit from a more comprehensive coverage, regardless of the health facility visited, and to avoid the constraints of the PhilHealth waiting period and the flat fee, many foreign residents in the Philippines opt for complementary international health insurance.
The cost of healthcare in the Philippines: some examples
For a consultation with a general practitioner, you will pay around PhP500 (€10)
APRIL International up to 10 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
HOSPITALISATION - MATERNITY
An natural delivery without complications in the private sector costs between PhP40,000 and PhP50,000 (€723 to €900)
APRIL International up to 900 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
Examples of average costs of care in the private health sector - APRIL International data 01/2022
* Example of reimbursement with MyHealth International - Comfort
** Example of the amount to be paid by the insured after reimbursement
Care in the Philippines
Many health facilities are located in the major cities of the Philippines, especially in Manila (and far fewer in rural areas). They are generally well-equipped, and their staff is often English-speaking. However, the public sector suffers from a lack of doctors, which contributes to longer waiting times for patients.
All these facilities are listed on the official website of the Philippine Department of Health.
In addition, the official PhilHealth website lists accredited health facilities whose care can be covered by the system.
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