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.
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.