health care insurance

health care insurance in the Philippines

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This is a very long post about Health care insurance in the Philippines

One of the first and most asked questions from people who want to move and stay in the Philippines is about their health and the insurance to cover the expenses. In the Philippines there is no obligation (by law) to have a medical insurance or Medicare as it’s also called. Everybody is free to have one or not. Although the Philippine government is promoting their people to have a medical insurance, only few have it actually. For this reason, they have developed PhilHealth. Elderly, above 60 years of age, are automatically members. Only some (but not all) who are employed have one. People, who do not have stable jobs, mostly do not have medical insurances.

Health Care Insurance for expats

health care insuranceI have been surfing on the internet for my readers and found a lot of information about this subject. Feel free to read it and ask quotations on the firms I have linked on the pages at the bottom. I must say that I do not have experiences with all of them; I only asked quotations from a few of them, and find it very expensive.

  • I have collected a few statements from people who have medical care as their business. I’m including them in this blog.
  • Links to a lot of Insurance companies are placed at the end of this blog post

What did I do?

International companies are quite (read VERY) expensive. A few local companies offer cheaper solutions but also do not cover all expenses. After ample considerations, my wife and I decided to take the cheapest we could find to cover the basics and save some money on a special account for emergency issues. This cheapest insurance is the Government Supported/owned company: PhilHealth (see link below). The premium we are paying is only 200 pesos a month for the two of us. The coverage is not very high, but you will not have to pay in advance in most hospitals in case of emergency. Aside from that, we have saved (and still are adding) some money to cover emergencies or severe illnesses.
I am not sure if all expats can have this insurance, but why not ask them?
*IMPORTANT TO KNOW* In case of life threatening emergencies, a hospital or emergency center is not allowed to ask for advance payments. Check my post RA 8344 Emergency and hospitals.

Checklist when asking for quotation

Some of the crucial comparisons people need to make between health care policies:

health care insurance

  • Does the provider have local claims units with authority to settle claims?
  • Is there a age limit to enter?
  • Is a reputable carrier used with a strong rating?
  • Repatriation is an essential area in cases of severe ill health – does the cover allow the whole family to travel together if required?
  • What cover is provided for chronic conditions – is this available as an optional benefit and is there a limit placed on the cover?
  • What GP services are available in the specific country and are adequate levels supplied in the policy?
  • Does the client play sport and if so, physiotherapy cover should be included. Check too for any dangerous sport exclusions.
  • Are quality telephone help lines provided as part of the cover?
  • Is the cover portable – can the provider arrange for a seamless transfer of cover if the policyholder moves between countries?
  • If the policyholder has a high level of savings, a product with a large excess could be considered – check if these are available.
  • If the client has limited funds, is a top-up plan available if some state care is available?
  • If maternity cover could be required, check out the cover offered.
  • Are alternative treatments available?
  • Can dental cover be arranged either as a separate policy or an add-on?

And there might be additional questions you have. Do not hesitate to ask them, and have them explained well.

International Health care Insurance Options for Expatriates by Wayne Sakamoto

Summary: Wayne Sakamoto explains why expatriates need specialized insurance and how to choose it.

Expatriate travelers are highly encouraged to purchase international health insurance when traveling and/or residing outside their home country. For most individuals, private medical insurance, government sponsored health coverage, and employer sponsored health plans do not provide coverage outside their residing country of coverage. Expatriates may be students, employees, independent contractors, extended tourists, or even missionaries. In most cases, medical insurance becomes a necessity when providing individual or family protection for illnesses and accidents which occur while traveling to foreign destinations. Common illnesses for expatriates may be as simple as an upper respiratory infection or food poisoning to dangerous illnesses transmitted by insects or animals. Accidents are also a concern for those physically active with adventure sports or just plain clumsy due to not paying attention to one’s environment & surroundings. When purchasing international health insurance coverage, travelers should be determining their needs with either a short term international health plan (5 days to one year) or an annual renewable international health plan (coverage for one year or longer). If you’re someone on the fence who needs one year of coverage and not sure which plan to purchase, you may want to opt for the annual renewable plan, in the case you need to extend your coverage for another year or even for a few months. This becomes important as you will not have to submit another application for coverage, if you are renewing your policy for additional length of coverage.

Your Health Care Insurance Options Abroad By Jack Rutherford

Summary: Health insurance is a long-term investment, so take the time to find an insurance intermediary you can trust, and a policy which is right for your situation.

International Health Insurance: Life in a foreign country can hold many attractions. Some people are lured abroad, perhaps to the developing world, by new job opportunities, especially given the recent signs of recession in the west. Others may be moving to be with family members or loved ones. But many people who become expatriates in this way are unaware of the risks they may be taking if they do not take out an appropriate health insurance policy. Many people moving abroad rely on their new employer to insure them. Some take out travel insurance as a temporary measure. Some decide to rely on the national health system in the new country, should there be one; others may take out private insurance locally. In many cases, it is a combination of these approaches. There is a simpler, and safer, alternative: international health insurance. International insurance is priced based on your age and area of cover; typically, the options for coverage include worldwide or worldwide excluding the US. Making a claim does not increase your premium, and policies are typically guaranteed renewable for life, meaning that you will not be left in the lurch as you get older or should you develop any medical conditions while covered. These are some significant advantages compared to other types of medical insurance; local insurance policies often have an age limit- something between 65 and 75 – or a coverage limit, beyond which you are no longer covered, and making a claim can have a big impact on your premiums – if it doesn’t lead to you being dropped by your insurer altogether!

Relying on the National Health Care System:

Do not assume that the national health care system in the country you move to will have the same standard of care as you may be used to in your home country. Many expatriates are drawn to developing countries where the public health care systems are of a much different standard than they are used to, and private health care is very expensive. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but in any case, don’t assume you will have access to any national health care system as soon as you move to a country. Often there is a waiting period before you can be included in the system, and non-citizens or non-permanent residents may never be covered. Even if you are, this coverage will not follow you if or when you should leave for a different country.

Local Insurance:

Insurance with a local provider may initially appear to be somewhat cheaper than global health insurance, but bear in mind that it will likely be affected by claims you make, unlike international medical insurance, as mentioned above. An international insurer can also offer the peace of mind of being able to make your needs known in your native language, which can be a great comfort in stressful situations such as medical emergencies. Most good international insurance companies will have set up a network of healthcare providers in the country you are in, enabling them to settle bills with hospitals directly and also ensure that your care is appropriate and of good quality. This can be an important advantage in developing or even developed countries where up-front cash payment is a common requirement in hospitals. Another significant benefit of a global insurance policy as opposed to a local one is that such policies frequently include medical evacuation and/or repatriation cover. If the unthinkable should happen, you may well want an insurer that would bring you home to be closer to your family and friends, and in familiar surroundings, for treatment.


Health insurance is a long-term investment, so take the time to find an insurance intermediary you can trust, and a policy which is right for your situation. Make sure that you are fully informed about the benefits and limitations of different types of policy before you choose. International health insurance is not necessarily appropriate for everybody, but for the expatriate or globally mobile it should be seriously considered, as in most cases it will provide the most comprehensive and most appropriate level of coverage; the benefits can extend beyond global mobility to coverage for life – so choose carefully!

Translating Medication Names by Eliot C. Heher, MD

Blood pressure pills, antibiotics, birth control pills and most other prescription and over-the-counter medications are sold under different names in different countries. A popular cholesterol-lowering drug named Lipitor in the U.S., for example, goes by Xarator in Italy and Zarator in Spain. Ambien, a popular agent for jet lag, is known as Somit in Argentina and Stilnox in most of Europe. In addition, a medication that’s available in 5, 10 and 20 mg tablets in the US may only be available in 10 mg tablets elsewhere.

An HTH physician in Spain summarized the situation:

Commercial names [of drugs], even those manufactured by the same company, usually vary from country to country.
“HTH Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Madrid.”

Expatriates who rely on medications for themselves or their family members should determine the commercial name of these medications, using an international drug information guide such as this Drug Translation Guide website. In addition, expatriates should learn, or have available, the generic (also known as chemical) name of these medications, which is more likely to be familiar to physicians and pharmacists.

Other important points regarding medications and traveling:

health care insurance

  • Carry an adequate supply of all medications (at least 6 months) in case of delay finding an equivalent supply.
  • Pack at least half of your supply in a carry-on bag.
  • Some medications, such as oral contraceptive agents, are particularly difficult to duplicate in their exact formulation overseas. Expats should consider obtaining these medications at home during their entire stay.
  • Pharmacy plan limitations may make it difficult to do so without significant out-of-pocket costs. The expatriate should discuss this problem with a Human Resources / Benefit manager at work.
  • Bring copies of all medication prescriptions, and glasses and contact lens prescriptions. Disposable contacts should probably be supplied from home. An extra pair of glasses is a necessity.
  • Write down the ingredients of the over-the-counter medications you use, so a physician or reliable pharmacist can suggest something similar if the exact formulation sold in your home country isn’t available.
  • Avoid problems with curious customs agents by leaving all medications in their original bottles and by carrying a letter from the prescribing doctor explaining why the medications are necessary. This is critical for medications that are subject to abuse, such as narcotics.
  • If you receive allergy injections or injections of other medicines at home, be certain to get a detailed letter from the prescribing physician describing the exact components of the shots.

And finally

helalth care insurance

the promised links to Insurance companies (in random order) are:

If they all do medicare insurances, I am not 100% sure (as said before: I haven’t asked them for quotations, that’s up to you)

I hope the information on this page was useful to YOU.


  • dante commented on 11 October, 2015 Reply

    sounds like a great idea, not having to pay in advance in an emergency is the key

    • Dutch Expat commented on 16 October, 2015 Reply

      They might still try though, but just tell them to stabilize the patient first… That’s what the law says.

  • dante commented on 19 October, 2015 Reply

    i dont really want to sign up via credit card, do you know if there is a way you can pay in person, say at BDO/SM or anywhere like that? or Mlhuiller them the money>?

    if you have no idea thats fine dont waste your time doing research for me, ill do some on my own and find out if you arent aware, thanks

    • Dutch Expat commented on 19 October, 2015 Reply

      Hi Dante,
      It depends on the insurer. Once you are subscribed and accepted as a ‘member’, many companies offer the possibility to pay through ‘bayad centers’, located in almost all places or in malls.
      Foreign companies do not have these possibilities.
      When you are a member of PhilHealth (for us foreigners = self employed), you need to pay 200 pesos a month (rate as of Oct 2015). Your wife and children, even your in-laws (if living in the same house and you are responsible for them) are covered for that amount. Every bayad center accepts the payments for membership. PhilHealth has a ‘probation’ period of 6 months though, so it is important to pay your fees in time, otherwise a ‘new’ probation period will start. Hope this helps you.

  • dante commented on 24 October, 2015 Reply

    that is great help thanks, i had no clue that it could be so cheap, $5 a month (less actually) to have a bit of peace of mind in case of emergency is certianly worth it

  • Kurt commented on 22 February, 2016 Reply

    I’ve never read anywhere online about anyone’s experiences with getting actual payments from any Insurance companies while abroad. What good does a list of companies do if I’ll never know about their record of paying ?

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