Health Care In The Philippines
If you’re going to be jumping off waterfalls, diving into coral reefs, and indulging in exotic cuisine—which is what you’ll probably be doing in the Philippines—you’ll want to be sure that there is a proper health-care provider around in case anything goes wrong. Fortunately, health care in the Philippines can keep you covered.
When it comes to health care in this archipelago, availability and accessibility vary depending on where you are. You’ll find capable and dedicated doctors and nurses pretty much everywhere, and pretty much all of them can speak English, so communication should be fairly easy.
That being said, not all areas will have adequate facilities. At any rate, it’s best to be armed with a basic first aid knowledge and supplies when you travel.
In the big cities
You’ll have no problem finding quality health care in the Philippines when you’re in the major urban areas such as Manila, Cebu, or Davao. In these metropolitan areas, the standard of health care is great.
Obviously, private hospitals will be more expensive, but this is mostly because they also generally have better facilities and the latest technology. Those who can afford it choose to go to private hospitals for ongoing treatments, long-term confinement, and more advanced surgeries because they are usually best equipped to handle these cases.
Public hospitals will be less expensive, but that doesn’t mean that the quality of health care is compromised. In fact, many talented doctors who work in private hospitals still choose to practice in public health-care facilities. Outpatient procedures in public hospitals are usually free, though patients usually have to pay for the medicines used.
In the islands and smaller towns
Health care in the Philippines can get a bit tricky in more rural areas. Hospital facilities here are usually very basic, and not as well-equipped as those in the urban areas. But rest assured that health-care providers in many of these areas are trained to handle emergency cases.
Depending on where you are—for instance, if you’re out on an island or staying in the mountains—the nearest health-care facility may also be hard to reach. It’s best to take note of the hospitals’ locations beforehand. Lifeline Rescue offers medical evacuation services by air, land, or sea, while PhilJets also offers emergency flight solutions.
If you’re going island hopping, snorkeling, trekking, or trying out any other activity that puts you at the slightest risk of injury, make sure your guide or tour coordinator has a first aid kit on hand.
Herbal medicine is also quite common in rural areas, so don’t be alarmed if you’re in the company of a local and they insist on covering your cuts in unfamiliar leaves. If you find yourself in this situation, just roll with it—more often than not, these herbal remedies actually work!
Like health care services and pretty much everything else in the Philippines, medicines are very affordable. Major chain drugstores such as Mercury Drug, Generika Pharmacy, and Rose Pharmacy can be found all over the country. They can be trusted to deliver quality medicines.
If you take maintenance medications, make sure you bring more than the amount you think you need. Complications may arise from missed doses for conditions like diabetes or hypertension. Road situations may not always be ideal if you need to go emergency medicine shopping.
Health insurance in the Philippines
If you’re planning to stay in the country long-term, the right health insurance gives you access to health care in the Philippines. If you’re a foreigner, you can purchase a short-term health insurance policy from a provider of your choice.
There are a number of prepaid short-term health insurance policies offered by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO). These include Medicard or AsianLife. For a one-time payment, HMOs give you access to health care services from partner hospitals. Depending on your plan, this could cover anything from consultations to full health check-ups. Of course, there is also an option to buy a much more extensive health coverage plan. This would require periodic payments.
While not consistent across the country, health care in the Philippines is decent and affordable for most travelers. With a little preparation, and having emergency numbers on hand, you can enjoy your adventure in the Philippines worry-free.