Getting affordable healthcare in the Philippines is often challenging. It can get real expensive, especially when you have a chronic illness or a major surgery.
How Much Do Filipinos Spend On Their Health? [Infographic]
How to better plan for possible healthcare costs in the future?
I’ve compiled a quick guide to reduce your healthcare costs that could save you money.
- Maximize your Philhealth benefits. Make sure your employer remits your Philhealth contributions regularly. If you are self-employed or an OFW, be a voluntary member. For just P200 a month, it’s definitely affordable. Philhealth lowers your hospital bills (depending on the hospital and the type of illness) by covering a portion of your room and board, medicines, lab fees, professional fees, operating room charges, and the surgeon’s and anesthesiologist’s fees.
- Choose an appropriate private health insurance (HMO) for your needs. For an annual (or monthly fee), usually a large percentage of the hospital fee is shouldered by the HMO. There is also a great emphasis on preventative care which includes free physical examinations and full coverage for out-patient benefits like doctor’s consultations and laboratory fees. HMOs in the Philippines include Maxicare, MediCard, PhilCare, Pacific Cross and more. Contact the HMO and ask questions until you understand how to get the best value from your plan. Consider how much you can afford to pay out of pocket and what the actual needs of your family are. Don’t base your decisions on the premiums alone, base your decisions on how much you are really going to get out of your plan. If you find the prices of the health plans quite expensive, inquire if they offer emergency health cards which is much cheaper (Php 800-Php 2000 a year) but of course, have minimal coverage (Php 50,000- P200,000).
- Avail of a critical illness insurance product. It is a type of financial product that provides a lump-sum cash payment to the insured if found to have one of the life threatening illnesses covered in the insurance policy contract. Some of the illnesses covered by critical illness insurance are Alzheimer’s disease, aortic surgery, bacterial meningitis, benign brain tumor, blindness, brain injury, cancer, cerebral palsy, coma. You could say, critical illness insurance fills the gap Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) cannot fill. By providing a lump sum, the insured can afford medical treatment, replace lost income due to illness, pay off any loan incurred during the treatment or spend it in any way (like financing the last remaining items on the bucket list.)
- Learn basic first aid. From minor cuts and bruises to emergency situations, if you know how to treat most common ailments and you have the right supplies on hand to do so, you can eliminate quite a few doctor or hospital visits.
- Try home remedies. If you are dealing with a minor condition, don’t be afraid to try non-medical treatment first.
- Take advantage of wellness clinics and free check-ups. If your company or community offers free wellness visits or annual check-ups, take advantage of them. They are the easiest way to get an early diagnosis of a serious ailment while it’s still easily treatable rather than a major medical problem.
- Ask if a procedure/test is necessary. It’s not always easy to question your doctor. But, if you are worried about the added cost of the exam, it’s important to speak up. Ask your doctor how necessary the tests or procedures they are recommending are. Most diagnosis can be determined by doctors just by listening and taking a good patient history and then taking a physical exam.
- Choose affordable laboratories. The key is to find an affordable laboratory center that still gives accurate results.
- Choose a reasonably priced hospital. Take a look at the room rates and choose one that fits your budget. Remember that a smaller room with the same amenities will save you money.
- When, checking out of the hospital, check your bill for errors. Make sure you thoroughly review the details of your itemized bill.
- Purchase medicines outside hospital premises – expect that you can buy them at cheaper prices. Make use of generic drugs. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients and work the same way in the body as brand-name drugs, but they cost a lot less. For common diseases or illnesses, there are usually cheaper medicine options at drugstores.
- Negotiate with your doctor the costs of services and discounts. While doctors have their standard fees, they may take your finances into consideration and reduce fees. Ask if you can get a discount for paying in advance if you have a procedure coming up at a future date or if you are paying in cash.
- Stay healthy and fit. Prevention is better than cure, that’s why having an active healthy lifestyle is important to add years and quality health to our lives.
If you know of any more useful tips, do share in the comments below.