Healthcare in Manila
Expats fondly describe their experience in Manila as enriching, exciting, and interesting. And indeed to move to a city of sunny blue skies and to live with people with even sunnier smiles is a daily pleasure.
But to enjoy all these, an expat needs some reassurance; most especially on healthcare. The good news for expats is that Manila has some of the best medical personnel, hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities, and affordable health insurance plans.
Health Facts and Figures
The country has a population of 88.57 million people, making it the twelfth most populous country in the world. However, the Philippine population is relatively young. About 43.9% of the population is aged 17 and younger; in fact of the 32.9 million in this percentage, 10.1 million are in the range of four years old and younger.
And at this rate, the population continues to grow about 2 to 2.3% percent yearly.
Males have a life expectancy of about 66 years old while it's 71 years old for females. The Philippines has a birth rate of 2.6% and a death rate of 0.58%.
With the country's shift from agricultural to an industrial economy, lifestyles have also changed. And with this change, lifestyle-related illnesses have quickly become the top cause of death.
Both hypertension and heart diseases are the major causes of death in the country, with 88,655 lives perishing due to these based on a report in 1997. This is followed closely by deaths due to pneumonia, with 30,311 victims in the same year.
The majority of Filipinos, about 92%, live in urban areas like Manila and have access to potable water, and the same percentage applies to having sanitation facilities at home.
The Health System
Filipino citizens are covered by the local social insurance, the Philhealth healthcare system. More formally called the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, it was created to replace the former Medicare program from the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) and the pension fund for both government and private workers through SSS (Social Security System).
All Filipino citizens who are employed, self-employed, or ‘indigent' are required to be members and contribute to Philhealth. Their regular contributions entitle them to the healthcare benefits (such as availing of medical services) or reimbursed medical expenses.
The average contribution on a monthly basis is 100 PHP (2.20 USD). For OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) however, payment can be made quarterly at 225 PHP (4.94 USD).
Since coverage through this system is not all encompassing, the Department of Health sets at least a 20% goal of private life insurance coverage for its citizens. However, based on the study made by the Insurance Commission, only 13.5% of the Filipino population had availed of private insurance coverage.
Healthcare for Expats
Since coverage through Philhealth is only for Filipino citizens, expatriates or foreign nationals are advised to avail of international health insurance or take advantage of the low rates of local health insurance plans.
There are about 42 life insurance companies, both foreign and local, to choose from. There are about 29,200 licensed insurance agents in the country that could help you find the best healthcare scheme for you.
Healthcare facilities, especially in Manila, may not be of the same standard or quality as those of high-end hospitals in the United States or other first world countries, but there are a number of hospitals in Manila that do have state-of-the-art facilities such as Makati Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital, and the Asian Hospital.
Though most of these private hospitals are more expensive, they are still very much affordable, especially in comparison to the cost of services in other developed countries in North America or Europe.
Keep in mind as well that despite the country's challenges in healthcare, Manila maintains medical personnel both in the private and public hospitals that are well trained in the medical field. Aside from that, their inherent warm Filipino personality is something you would find most agreeable. You'll also find that communicating with Filipino nurses and doctors is easier as they can speak English.
An expat's tropical paradise would not be complete without the comfort of knowing that one's health would be well taken care of. In Manila, you can bask in the warm Philippine sun knowing full well that quality healthcare is just within your arm's reach.