Guide to Health Insurance in the Philippines

Guide to Health Insurance in the Philippines

Whether you’re relocating to the Philippines or looking for a new international health insurance provider, it’s important to know the type of insurance provision, health care and medical facilities which are available in this south-east Asian country.

According to a 2010 census, the Philippines population is about 92,000,000 and the life expectancy is 68 years for both sexes (12 years shorter than in Britain). Healthcare provision in the islands varies enormously; it is generally better in large cities like the capital Manila rather than in remote rural areas.

Healthcare facilities

The Philippines produces many well-trained doctors, nurses and carers. Unfortunately for the islanders, many of these expert medical professionals tend to take their expertise and talents abroad with them.

This medical exodus does not occur because of a surplus of medical workers in the country’s 7,000 islands – natural disasters, terrorism and the risk of contracting diseases like malaria means that medical services there are frequently over-stretched.

An indication of a country’s health can often be found by examining its infant mortality rate; in the Philippines this equates to 23 deaths per 1,000 births. By western standards this is high, however, it is a superior rate to that found in many south-east Asian countries and the rate has improved considerably over the past four years.

Further hope can be gained from the fact that the government remains committed to providing free-at-point-of-use health care to all its citizens. This is not to say that there is no place for private hospitals in the Philippines; 60 per cent of the nation’s 1,700 hospitals are privately owned.

The private and the public sector compete for the services of the many Filipino doctors and nurses who have received expert training in the US. These medical professionals should have an excellent command of the English language; as English is the official language of the Philippines, expats should find that language isn’t a barrier to seeking health care.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the best doctors, and the best equipment, can be found in hospitals in Manila, Alabang, Ortigas and Quezon City. Medical care in rural areas generally receive less glowing references, indeed the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises that “medical care is limited in more remote areas” and “sufficient” in major cities.

Before you go

The FCO also recommends that you contact your doctor eight weeks before you travel in order to check whether you need any vaccinations.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHaC) states that travellers to the Philippines could consider vaccination against cholera, diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis and typhoid. This list is not exhaustive.

The same organisation cautions that there is a risk of malaria in rural areas of the Philippines below 600m and that mosquito bite-avoidance measures should be taken when travelling in these areas as no vaccine is available. There is no risk of malaria to be found in the islands’ cities.

The Philippines expects to be hit by around 20 typhoons a year and special caution should be exercised by travellers during the months of the monsoon season (June to November). Emergency services on the islands are further stretched by the presence of volcanoes and the fact that the country is an earthquake zone.

To end on a positive note: 130,000 British tourists visited the islands in 2011 and the FCO reports that “most visits are trouble-free”.

Next steps

Get a quote for one of our WorldCare plans for your cover in the Philippines. Using this plan means you can access treatment from anywhere in the world. It is also very easy to arrange since you can buy it online, get covered instantly and maintain it quickly and conveniently through your own personal secure online area.

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