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Philhealth gouges foreigners – premiums to rise steeply

As I’m sure many expats have heard by now, those of us who are taking advantage of local rates for Philhealth are about to have our premiums go up. Rather significantly. No more are we going to get away with a few hundred pesos per quarter, a price worth paying, considering the poor standard of care. Now we’re going to be up for several thousand.

In fact, while we’re currently eligible to be covered on our spouse’s plan (at ₱600 a quarter), or independently at the same price, that is about to change. For those of us on SRRV visas the premiums have risen from ₱2,400 pesos per annum to ₱15,000. For other foreigners the fees will be an extra ₱2,000 on top of the SRRV rate. That’s ₱17,000 per year.

Of course, our dependents can be covered under our own coverage but the same is not true in reverse.

In reality this is nothing short of another attempt to extract money from foreigners living in the Philippines. It’s the same as the extortionate fees that the BOI demands for our visa renewals. I won’t be bothering, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the standard of healthcare here, especially in the public system is so utterly useless that I’d rather take my chances. I have personal experience of this, my father recently had his life cut short as a result of poor medical care in the Philippines. I’m not going into details, but, suffice to say I was shocked.

Secondly. I’d prefer just to have an emergency slush fund in a joint account which I can earn my own interest from. I got some very good advice when I got here. Sock 500,000 pesos in an emergency fund and forget about it.

Anyone who comes out here without at least that as a buffer is a nut job. Why do I say that? Simply because health problems may not be the only woes that befall expats in the country.

What happens if regime change here results in local instability? $20,000 would be enough to get you and your family somewhere else, if not get them visas, etc, in your home country, at least to another place in ASEAN. What happens if the next organisation to increase costs for foreigners is the BOI? Hypothetically, could you afford it if the cost of maintaining your visa and ACR went up by a factor of three? Philhealth just did worse than a 3x rise, there’s no reason that other government departments can’t or won’t follow suit.

What if you find yourself in legal difficulty? Can you afford to find an attorney at short notice (experience tells me that if they don’t expect to be paid up front they certainly expect you to be able to demonstrate that you can pay).

If you are out here with no plan and just going with the flow in the hope that someone will bail you out or that nothing will happen. You’re dreaming, and if you’ve got a family here and you’re doing that you’re just irresponsible.

Even with all that said, I will still pay the premiums for my wife and daughter. Just in case. 17,000 a year for access to a health system that doesn’t treat its patients? I would rather spend that on beer and chips, thanks.

14 Comments on "Philhealth gouges foreigners – premiums to rise steeply"

  1. The premium increase to 17,000 is a 708.33% increase.

  2. Avoid more medi-care, safe on beer and chips: Double edged sword..

  3. keith britten | March 2, 2017 at 11:23 am |

    Surely 85% of P2400 is P4440 not P17.000.

  4. Thanks to everyone who pointed out the mathematical faux pas in the headline. Now modified.

  5. Duterte doesnt like foreignors. Never has. But then again, go to Thailand, Indonesia or anywhere else it’s the same. Expats will always be expected to subsidise the poor.

    • Sounds like 2 parts sour grapes and at least one part paranoia to me, “Anonymous” – perhaps if you want to make statements like that you could choose to do so publicly?

  6. The Dogs Back Wheels | March 3, 2017 at 6:34 am |

    We have paid into this since i have been here , I have been lucky enough not to have needed it , I have always dreaded the idea of spending a few minutes visiting people in hospitals here let alone being admitted as a patient.You get what you pay for and a premium of P2400 a year gets you exactly what you pay for , Poor care at best.

    • John Power | March 7, 2017 at 8:47 pm |

      I had excellent care both times I was confined in hospital here.

      • The Dogs Back Wheels | March 8, 2017 at 6:59 am |

        It is a lucky dip here , you were one of the lucky ones.I have had reports of dried blood up walls and as Dave has said Animals roaring around.But if you have money you can command the best in Manila.

  7. yet the Filipino can go to the UK to stay after 3 months get free health care and hospital in Scotland free prescriptions, they should be made pay for doctors and prescriptions Duterte wants his country folk to get everything for nothing in foreign countries but does not want foreigners to get it in his, TIME THEY PAID

  8. The Dogs Back Wheels | March 7, 2017 at 7:29 pm |

    neartic .They will also receive healthcare twenty time better than they would here.
    It comes as a shock to most foreigners here to find that you can be admitted to hospital and then a family member has to take care of you , medication has to brought outside and food brought in.A friend of mine was shocked when he was admitted and after treatment was handed a prescription for his meds.Asking ‘ How the hell am i supposed to take a walk down the road to obtain this?’Was then told to call in a relative to assist.

    • That tends to shock most foreigners the first time they find themselves in a Philippine hospital. The standard of care is bloody awful, especially in the provinces. I remember when my partner was giving birth to my youngest, for instance. There were even stray cats running around the ward. They turned the water off overnight so the shared bathroom facilities were filthy by morning. It’s actually amazing that anyone emerges from one of these local hospitals without contracting a serious secondary infection. There is no care taken by doctors in this country. My instructions are quite clear. In the event of my becoming ill or sustaining an injury here: If you can, get me on a flight to the EU. If you can’t I’ll take my chances at the house.

  9. The Dogs Back Wheels | March 8, 2017 at 6:55 am |

    When both of my children were born i didn’t stay for either for fear of upsetting the natives.Both times the3 birthing units were barely passable but i felt it best if i wasn’t there passing judgement.For sure i would have gotten myself into trouble so best stay out of it.Her mother oversaw it all.

    • I kept my visits brief and my gaze on either my wife, daughter or the floor. I was utterly horrified and I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut (hence the career I guess haha)

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