Street Vendors in Manila, Phillipines
Street Vendors in Manila, Phillipines
Street Vendors in Manila, Phillipines

Guide to Healthcare in Philippines

12 Expats Talk about Healthcare and Health Insurance in Philippines

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jan 17, 2021

Summary: Expats living in Philippines talk about healthcare, proximity to hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care in Philippines, availability of prescription medicines and more.

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Expats in Philippines offer insight into the quality of healthcare in Philippines, proximity to hospitals, cost of health insurance and more.

What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Philippines?

We asked expat moms who gave birth in Philippines about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:

"Find best doctor within 30 kilometer area; get her recommendation of best hospital," commented an expat living in Olongapo, Philippines.

"Make sure you have all your paperwork together especially if you and the mother are not married. We had to take a special trip to the courthouse so that the child could have my name. You will want to do that before you leave the hospital. If you are married, it's not really an issue," said another expat in Calamba, Laguna.

"Look for a good midwife. If you go to the hospital, expect that they will always give a c section and you will pay a lot of money as a foreigner," remarked another in Davao.

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What are medical services in Philippines like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Philippines, they replied:

"Yes. My regular physician is US trained and services most of the expats I know. His referrals for special services have been spot on. Medical costs here are exceptionally low compared to costs in the US and I have not yet needed to use my US health insurance," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"There are many decent hospitals all over Philippines, with their staff trained to work in other countries. Fortunately so far I have not required much care," said another expat in Cebu City.

"It's very important to have cash ready, or to be on one of the many local medical insurances available. Without money, you are doomed," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"I live in a rural area of the Philippines, and I have found the provincial and municipal hospitals to be of excellent quality for all my ordinary health care needs," said another expat in Bontoc.

"If you can afford it, get health insurance, but the rates are higher the older you are, and if your over 60 they go through the roof, that's if they will insure you. Be aware that many doctors here, who will charge you in excess of the regular charge as a "skin tax" as we are perceived to be able to afford it. Also hospitals will add on extra's not necessary, ie, they always insist on a drip, but it only contains saline solution. Extras like artificial limbs are difficult to have maintained here, its only in Manila or Cebu where there are facilities to have these repaired or replaced, but the quality and expertise is poorer, usually using 2nd hand appliances from abroad. In Manila there is a private house where European standards are maintained, but it is the most expensive you will encounter," remarked another expat in .

What do you think about the cost of medical care in Philippines?

"There are a lot of health insurance choices on offer and it is highly recommended to go on one of them. To be without cash and medical insurance may become a death warrant for the "Unprepared"," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"We do not have health insurance, except for PhilHealth through my husband's work. It pays for hospital stays, but there are a lot of out-of-pocket costs. However, these are not high - we are fortunate in that we have not needed any kind of major medical treatments. Something like advanced-stage cancer would have to be handled in Manila and would cost us in the realm of USD 5000 - 10,000, I'd estimate. Primary health care, like bandaging of wounds, bronchitis, and the like is free to all comers," said another expat in Bontoc.

What are emergency services like?

When we asked about emergency services, members in Philippines wrote:

"Angeles Medical Center was about 5km from where we lived. Most of the staff are unfriendly! My son broke his arm and I was infuriated by the awful way we were treated. As expected, it was expensive as we had to stay for a week, but the room was very clean and the food was good. We, however, got the needed medication," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"Emergency/outpatient care is available 24/7. I seldom have to wait much for care. For an emergency requiring any sort of high-tech equipment, we would have to be transported to Baguio City, a six-hour drive. However, the human, professional care here is very high quality," said another expat in Bontoc.

"5 minutes - Batangas Emergency Care (hospital) - YES all services - Excellent care hospital - Public hospital," remarked another expat in Batangas.

"Local Emergency hospitals are normally for maternity so no xray's just a bed and a couple of nurse. Broken arms etc are transferred to nearest public hospital, but their conditions are very, very 3rd world and you could wait for hours to be attended. Also you must have cash up front before anything is done ie, xrays etc. Private hospitals are faster and better conditions, but are expensive, and again cash or credit card is necessary up front. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital until full payment is made. Locals can leave after signing promissory notes. This is breaking the law, but hospitals still carry on this practice regardless. Also doctors here carry drugs given by reps' they will sell you these, and also try to sell drugs that are not available from the drugs store. These are expensive, and I suspect some are ersatz. If you are unfortunate to be involved in an accident, they will send you to the nearest hospital, if you are not coherent, they will not treat you until a family member comes up with the payment details. You could die while waiting, but that is not their concern. The doctors Hippocratic oath only applies in the Philippines if you can pay for the services, doctors says they did this as its an investment to a comfortable life. The standards of their training is not so good either, that's why when they go abroad to work its usually as nurses, but only after they did some retraining," explained one expat in .

Are their specialists in the area or do you need to travel to see a specialist?

"Local hospitals in Germany are very efficient! The hospitals and medical centers in The Philippines are all average," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"We go to Baguio City, where there is a wealth of choices, public, private, and medical school hospitals. My husband had surgery in Baguio City and received great care, both from the doctors and the nurses and other care providers," said another expat in Bontoc.

"This would normally be in private hospitals in Manila, where charges are double from the local hospitals. Some of these hospitals are American style, but have astronomic bills to match. Again their practice is to load the bill. The doctors always try to refer other doctors to see you, again all this is chargeable to you. Payment upfront is required -- even when you are involved in an accident, sent to the ER and incoherent. They will wait for your family to arrive with cash or a credit card regardless of your condition. ," remarked another expat in .

Are most prescription medications available in Philippines?

"Common medication is available in the many pharmacies dotted around the city. Prescriptions for antibiotics are needed, but not for asthma inhalers etc. Medication is much cheaper than in Germany," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"Until recently, pharmacies have been willing to sell prescription drugs without prescriptions, but the government is trying to end this practice and educate people about the importance of getting prescriptions. They are also trying to curb overuse of antibiotics, and these are now difficult to get without persuading a doctor you need a prescription. My husband spends USD 40-50 per month for four blood pressure medications, including Amlodepine and Simvastatin. One consequence of the low cost of medications may be some tendency to over-prescribe," said another expat in Bontoc.

"Common prescription drugs are available in a number of chemists, but cheaper is generics small stores, but these do not stock everything but the most common, but are located everywhere. Mercury Drug is country wide, and have the largest stocks, but their prices are higher," remarked another expat in .

"There are many Govt. and private hospitals dotted around the city and offer reasonably good facilities. Unfortunately, due to the xenophobia of most of the nurses, one has to put up with their ignorance and nastiness," commented an expat living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"There is a public hospital nearby and also a private hospital. Emergency services in the private hospital are good - Not in the public hospital. Quality of care in the Public Hospital is not recommendable for Westerners. In the Private hospital it is reliable and good," said another expat in Manila.

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GeoBlue International Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Philippines from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Philippines from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote Call  

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Street Vendors in Manila, Phillipines
GeoBlue International Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Philippines from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Philippines from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote Call  

Healthcare in PhilippinesHealthcare in Philippines

Expats in the Philippines have a lot to say about the quality of medical care, hospitals, prescription medicine availability and health insurance in the Philippines.

Expat Healthcare Advice in Philippines12 Expats Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Philippines

Expats living in Philippines talk about their own experiences with healthcare, hospital visits, emergencies, finding a doctor, buying health insurance in Philippines and more.

healthcare in philippinesExpats Report about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Philippines

Read recent healthcare reports submitted for: , Batangas and Bontoc.

healthcare surveyAnswer Questions about Healthcare in Philippines

Help others moving to Philippines by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in Philippines, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-PhilippinesExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in Philippines

Read recent baby reports submitted for Olongapo and Calamba, Laguna.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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