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Medical insurance, Medicare, Health insurance in the Philippines for expats.


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One of the first and most asked questions from people who wants to move and stay in the Philippines is about their health and the insurance to cover the expenses.

In the Philippines there’s no obligation (by law) to have a medical insurance or Medicare as it’s also called. Everybody is free to have one or not. Although the Philippine government is promoting their people to have a medical insurance, only few have it actually. Only some (but not all) who are employed have one. Those people, who don’t have stable jobs, mostly do not have medical insurances.

I have been surfing on the internet and found a lot of information about this subject. I have collected a few statements from people who have medical care as their business. I’m including them here. Links to a lot of Insurance companies are placed at the end.


International companies are quite expensive. A few local companies offer cheaper solutions but also do not cover all expenses. The cheapest insurance is a Government Supported company: PhilHealth.



Checklist when asking for quotation


Some of the crucial comparisons people need to make between health care policies:

• *Does the provider have local claims units with authority to settle claims?

• *Is there a age limit to enter?

• *Is a reputable carrier used with a strong rating?

• *Repatriation is an essential area in cases of severe ill health - does the cover allow the whole family to travel together if required?

• *What cover is provided for chronic conditions - is this available as an optional benefit and is there a limit placed on the cover?

• *What GP services are available in the specific country and are adequate levels supplied in the policy?

• *Does the client play sport and if so, physiotherapy cover should be included. Check too for any dangerous sport exclusions.

• *Are quality telephone help lines provided as part of the cover?

• *Is the cover portable - can the provider arrange for a seamless transfer of cover if the policyholder moves between countries?

• *If the policyholder has a high level of savings, a product with a large excess could be considered - check if these are available.

• *If the client has limited funds, is a top-up plan available if some state care is available?

• *If maternity cover could be required, check out the cover offered.

• *Are alternative treatments available?

• *Can dental cover be arranged either as a separate policy or an add-on?



International Health Insurance Options for Expatriates by Wayne Sakamoto

Summary: Wayne Sakamoto explains why expatriates need specialized insurance and how to choose it.


Expatriate travelers are highly encouraged to purchase international health insurance when traveling & residing outside their home country. For most individuals, private medical insurance, government sponsored health coverage, and employer sponsored health plans do not provide coverage outside their residing country of coverage.


Expatriates may be students, employees, independent contractors, extended tourists, or even missionaries. In most cases medical insurance becomes a necessity when providing individual or family protection for illnesses and accidents which occur while traveling to foreign destinations. Common illnesses for expatriates may be as simple as an upper respiratory infection or food poisoning to dangerous illnesses transmitted by insects or animals. Accidents are also a concern for those physically active with adventure sports or just plain clumsy due to not paying attention to one’s environment & surroundings.


When purchasing international health insurance coverage, travelers should be determining their needs with either a short term international health plan (5 days to one year) or an annual renewable international health plan (coverage for one year or longer). If you’re someone on the fence who needs one year of coverage and not sure which plan to purchase, you may want to opt for the annual renewable plan, in the case you need to extend your coverage for another year or even for a few months. This becomes important as you will not have to submit another application for coverage, if you are renewing your policy for additional length of coverage.


Your Insurance Options Abroad By Jack Rutherford


Summary: Health insurance is a long-term investment, so take the time to find an insurance intermediary you can trust, and a policy which is right for your situation.International Health Insurance:


Life in a foreign country can hold many attractions. Some people are lured abroad, perhaps to the developing world, by new job opportunities, especially given the recent signs of recession in the west. Others may be moving to be with family members or loved ones. But many people who become expatriates in this way are unaware of the risks they may be taking if they do not take out an appropriate health insurance policy.


Many people moving abroad rely on their new employer to insure them. Some take out travel insurance as a temporary measure. Some decide to rely on the national health system in the new country, should there be one; others may take out private insurance locally. In many cases, it is a combination of these approaches. There is a simpler, and safer, alternative: international health insurance.


International insurance is priced based on your age and area of cover; typically the options for coverage include worldwide or worldwide excluding the US. Making a claim does not increase your premium, and policies are typically guaranteed renewable for life, meaning that you will not be left in the lurch as you get older or should you develop any medical conditions while covered. These are some significant advantages compared to other types of medical insurance; local insurance policies often have an age limit- something between 65 and 75 - or a coverage limit, beyond which you are no longer covered, and making a claim can have a big impact on your premiums - if it doesn’t lead to you being dropped by your insurer altogether!


Relying on the National Health Care System:

Do not assume that the national health care system in the country you move to will have the same standard of care as you may be used to in your home country. Many expatriates are drawn to developing countries where the public health care systems are of a much different standard than they are used to, and private health care is very expensive. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but in any case, don’t assume you will have access to any national health care system as soon as you move to a country. Often there is a waiting period before you can be included in the system, and non-citizens or non-permanent residents may never be covered. Even if you are, this coverage will not follow you if or when you should leave for a different country.


Local Insurance:

Insurance with a local provider may initially appear to be somewhat cheaper than global health insurance, but bear in mind that it will likely be affected by claims you make, unlike international medical insurance, as mentioned above. An international insurer can also offer the peace of mind of being able to make your needs known in your native language, which can be a great comfort in stressful situations such as medical emergencies. Most good international insurance companies will have set up a network of healthcare providers in the country you are in, enabling them to settle bills with hospitals directly and also ensure that your care is appropriate and of good quality. This can be an important advantage in developing or even developed countries where up-front cash payment is a common requirement in hospitals.


Another significant benefit of a global insurance policy as opposed to a local one is that such policies frequently include medical evacuation and/or repatriation cover. If the unthinkable should happen, you may well want an insurer that would bring you home to be closer to your family and friends, and in familiar surroundings, for treatment.



Health insurance is a long-term investment, so take the time to find an insurance intermediary you can trust, and a policy which is right for your situation. Make sure that you are fully informed about the benefits and limitations of different types of policy before you choose. International health insurance is not necessarily appropriate for everybody, but for the expatriate or globally mobile it should be seriously considered, as in most cases it will provide the most comprehensive and most appropriate level of coverage; the benefits can extend beyond global mobility to coverage for life - so choose carefully!


Translating Medication Names by Eliot C. Heher, MD

Blood pressure pills, antibiotics, birth control pills and most other prescription and over-the-counter medications are sold under different names in different countries. A popular cholesterol-lowering drug named Lipitor in the U.S., for example, goes by Xarator in Italy and Zarator in Spain. Ambien, a popular agent for jet lag, is known as Somit in Argentina and Stilnox in most of Europe. In addition, a medication that’s available in 5, 10 and 20 mg tablets in the US may only be available in 10 mg tablets elsewhere. An HTH physician in Spain summarized the situation:

“Commercial names [of drugs], even those manufactured by the same company, usually vary from country to country.” HTH Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Madrid.

Expatriates who rely on medications for themselves or their family members should determine the commercial name of these medications, using an international drug information guide such as HTH’s Drug Translation Guide. In addition, expatriates should learn, or have available, the generic (also known as chemical) name of these medications, which is more likely to be familiar to physicians and pharmacists.


Other important points regarding medications:

• Carry an adequate supply of all medications (at least 6 months) in case of delay finding an equivalent supply.

• Pack at least half of your supply in a carry-on bag.

• Some medications, such as oral contraceptive agents, are particularly difficult to duplicate in their exact formulation overseas. Expats should consider obtaining these medications at home during their entire stay.

• Pharmacy plan limitations may make it difficult to do so without significant out-of-pocket costs–the expatriate should discuss this problem with a Human Resources/Benefit manager at work.

• Bring copies of all medication prescriptions, and glasses and contact lens prescriptions. Disposable contacts should probably be supplied from the home. An extra pair of glasses is a necessity.

• Write down the ingredients of the over-the-counter medications you use, so a physician or reliable pharmacist can suggest something similar if the exact formulation sold in your home country isn’t available.

• Avoid problems with curious customs agents by leaving all medications in their original bottles and by carrying a letter from the prescribing doctor explaining why the medications are necessary. This is critical for medications that are subject to abuse, such as narcotics.

• If you receive allergy injections or injections of other medicines at home, be certain to get a detailed letter from the prescribing physician describing the exact components of the shots.


A few links to Insurance companies:





Pacific Prime






Blue Cross



Allo Expat Forum about medical Insurance



Phil Am, their website is often not reachable and not clear where to navigate to.



A broker for PhilAm






Global Health Asia based in Hong Kong



William Russel



Good Health Americas



Bupa International



Optimum Health Care






Expatriate Insurance






private broker




I hope that this information will help the people, who plan to live in the Philippines in the future, to be better prepared. I know that this information helps me on my next step to be an expat in the Philippines.


Thanks for reading, though I know it`s a lot of info to read. :Whistle:




Edited by Loso4ever
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