Health insurance in the Philippines is different from what I was used to in the U.S. Then again with what’s transpired in the U.S. since I left, so is the coverage there. Can’t say I’m unhappy to be removed from that.

There may be specialized coverage here, but the one that’s prevalent and affordable is PhilHealth. Anyone that’s been to the Philippines for any length of time will be familiar with that name. Someone you know here has it and has used it. Yes, even as a foreigner you can still register for PhilHealth.

I said it was different from I was used to. PhilHealth main’s purpose is to cover you if you get admitted. They don’t cover office visits and prescriptions (outside of the time in the hospital). I believe there are some things, such as Dengue Fever, that are covered regardless, but for the most part unless you are admitted they will not cover anything. I can’t really give you a break down of percentage of savings, as it seems to vary, but I can say that the small yearly fee will be more than worth your time to pay if you think there is any chance you might ever end up in a hospital here. And from my experiences, if you live here there is an excellent chance you will be admitted at some point.

PhilHealth Payment CentersThe premium (monthly/yearly) fee also varies depending upon a number of things for the average Filipino, but unless you are covered under your spouses plan you (as an expat) would probably fall under the Informal Economy: Citizen of other countries working/residing/studying in the Philippines. In this category you will pay P2400 yearly or P600 quarterly. One nice benefit is that you can pay this at several outlets other than PhilHealth such as SM, Bayad Center, LBC, PhilPost, Western Uniion, some banks, etc. The typical stand in line payment system here in the Philippines. But at least you have options.

Registration is simple – well that’s through the eyes of my new-found perspective. At one time in my life I would have thought this was quite ridiculous, but this was pretty painless compared to some bureaucratic things I’ve had to do here. I gave myself the whole day, as I am inclined to do for most matters here. All in all in took about 40 minutes. Yes, I had to go through security, get a number, be sent out to have photo copies made of ID that wasn’t indicated I would need, come back in wait for my number to pop up on the screen that broke down 4 numbers before mine, go to my window three separate times, then proceed to the payment window, when completed I still needed to go to one of the many outside vendors that would provide my photo (required?) and lamination of card, and then I was on my way. I was quite happy. I even had an instant coffee while I waited the photo/laminate guy to start/finish.

I had to fill out two copies of the registration form, of which I did before I got there. The photo copies I was asked to provide were my bio page of my passport and my ACR-I card. That’s a bit redundant but I had come prepared for that, even though the website indicated that documents were not required. There was some verbiage about your mileage may vary, and I suspected that would be the case. All this was given tho the person at the first window.

It seems they don’t have a system in place to remind you of payment due. I guess it’s up to me to remember that. I plan to pay a year at time, as I don’t need to go to a payment center every quarter. The less I stand in line the more I smile. Or so it seems.

That was my experience. Please keep in mind the standard disclosure of your experience may vary is always applicable here.

And if you had any doubt – I highly recommend getting the insurance. No, it doesn’t cover all that you are used to, but it costs very little and when you are in the hospital, as someone I know was just recently, and you don’t have it, you will be getting it when you get out. Better late than never?

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