• HOME
  • /
  • GUIDES
  • /
  • Asia
  • /
  • A Comprehensive Guide To Philippines Health Insurance For Expats

A Comprehensive Guide To Philippines Health Insurance For Expats

Understanding the differences between public, private, PhilHealth, and expat health insurance options is a confusing topic for most foreigners in the Philippines. This guide uncomplicates the Philippine health insurance system with how-tos, expert insights, and insider tips to help you make an informed health decision.

  Mins Reading Time

Published On: November 22, 2023

Latest Update: April 12, 2024

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

QUICK SUMMARY- PHILIPPINE MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR FOREIGNERS

  • Expats can join the Philippine Public Health Insurance (PhilHealth) for less than $300 annually
  • PhilHealth pays a set amount per type of treatment
  • There is no age limit to join PhilHealth. Foreigners over 65 are welcome.
  • A medical exam or health questionnaire is not required.
  • PhilHealth only covers 20% to 30% of the total bill.
  • You control the % by shopping for lower-priced hospitals
  • Expats are excluded from PhilHealth’s most expensive treatments (Z Benefits)

I’m a US and Filipino dual citizen. I’ve had the luxury of living and working in the US before returning to the Philippines to retire. It’s not a shocker to say that medical care in the Philippines is very different than in the US. But unlike most expats, I’m not here to tell you that the Philippines’ healthcare system is ideal or that US healthcare is the best.    

International health insurance is one of the most confusing topics for expats. I even have an entire section just to help expats understand international health insurance, how to choose a policy, and ways to cut costs.

However, healthcare in the Philippines is an even higher level of complicated. There are vastly different levels of quality, some medical facilities are equivalent or better than expats would receive in most Western countries. While some rural clinics feel like a throwback to witch doctors and shamans. 

Table of Contents- Click To Expand: A Comprehensive Guide To Philippines Health Insurance For Expats

How To Get Philippine Health Insurance For $300

Step-by-Step Guide To Apply For PhilHealth

Infographic detailing the steps for foreigners to sign up for Philippine Health Insurance

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

QUICK TIPS- PHILIPPINES

Show a mandatory departure ticket. You cannot enter the Philippines on a one-way ticket if you only have a tourist visa or visa on arrival. You will need a flight ticket with a date leaving the country before your visa expires. Save money by showing immigration you have  a cheap onward travel ticket for just $14

Get help with your visa. The Philippines visa process can get complicated. The rules and regulations change frequently. Avoid the hassle of dealing with the immigration bureaucracy by speaking with a Philippines Visa Specialist. 

Learn some basic Tagalog phrases. While nearly everyone speaks some English, learning some basic Tagalog is always appreciated by Filipinos. Get a FREE Language Lesson using the same learning technique used by the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military.

Save On Moving Costs. Save up to 40% on your international moving costs. Nomadic FIRE has partnered with 10,000+ pre-screened global moving companies to save you time and money. Fill out our 60-second form and get 5 free quotes from accredited moving companies competing for your business.

Get Free Expat Health Insurance Quotes. Your home insurance will not cover you while abroad. However, you can find affordable international health insurance for less than what you would pay in the United States. 

Moving to the Philippines as an American expat comes with a unique set of challenges. One of them is ensuring you can access quality healthcare while living in the country.

How you protect your health will depend on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, where you live in the Philippines, and your budget. 

This guide is written specifically to help expats understand their medical insurance options and make an informed decision on handling their health insurance in the Philippines.

Expat Guide To Living In The Philippines- Costs, Visas, Safety, Pros & Cons (2022)
How To Get A Philippines Retirement Visa For As Low As $1500
2024 Philippines Online Annual Reporting Requirement Guide for Expats
Expat Life in the Philippines: An American Expat’s Pros and Cons
Foreigner’s Guide To Prenuptial Agreements in the Philippines- Protecting Your Money
24 Facts About Healthcare In The Philippines Every Expat Must Know
How Do I Send Money to the Philippines? My Remittance Rundown
Best Places To Live In Manila- An Expat Guide To Metro Neighborhoods
An Expat Guide On Where To Eat In Manila [Best Restaurants and Groceries]

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

Brief Overview of the Philippine Healthcare System

I have a separate guide with a complete breakdown of how the Philippine Healthcare System works, so check that article out for all the details.

To keep things brief here, the key points are:

  • Tiered System: The Philippines has a mixed healthcare system with both a private and public medical system
  • Public vs. Private: Public healthcare (PhilHealth) is more affordable but faces resource challenges, while private healthcare offers better services at a higher cost.
  • Healthcare Quality: The country is recognized as a medical tourism destination, ranking 24th globally. The overall healthcare quality ranks 96th globally, but disparities exist between urban and rural areas and between public and private.
  • Universal Healthcare: All citizens are covered by PhilHealth. Foreigners can pay to join, but PhilHealth has limitations on coverage.
  • Healthcare Is Cheap Here: Expats can join PhilHealth for as low as 15,000 PHP / $270 USD annually or access better hospitals and doctors with private health insurance for as low as $550 yearly.

Comparing Public vs Private Healthcare Options

Your most crucial healthcare decision is to rely on a cheaper government-sponsored hospital or a more expensive private healthcare facility.

The two systems have fundamental differences in cost, care, and coverage. Additionally, there are even more differences between rural and city healthcare options, so your choice may rely on where you call home in the Philippines. 

Public Medical System

The Department of Health (DOH) governs the public care system in the Philippines. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is the national health insurance program.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2019 Universal Healthcare Bill, known as the “UHB,” granting 100% of the country’s citizens basic healthcare, regardless of employment or ability to pay.

The good news for expats is that the healthcare reforms have continued to include foreigners with valid ACR cards or retired expats with a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa.

Citizens of other countries working and/or residing in the Philippines – foreign citizens with valid working permits and/or Aliens Certificate of Registrations (ACRs) working and or residing in the Philippines – PhilHealth Section 5b6rule 1, Title 3 of the revised IRR of the Republic Act 7875

Public Hospitals in the Philippines

The public healthcare facilities are primarily based on government-funded hospitals and provide subsidized health services to public health insurance members. Since PhilHealth covers 100% of the country’s citizens, these government-run hospitals often experience high patient volumes, resulting in crowded conditions.

Locals rely on public Rural Health Units (RHU) and Barangay Health Centers for primary care services, but these public healthcare clinics are often poorly staffed and equipped. Most areas outside of Manila don’t have enough public doctors and hospitals.

The resulting quality of care drops noticeably even further between healthcare facilities in rural areas and hospitals in large cities.

Some notable government hospitals in the Philippines include:

  • Cebu City Medical Center
  • Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
  • Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center
  • San Lazaro Hospital

Advantages Of Philippine Public Health Insurance

  • Government subsidies mean lower costs for patients
  • PhilHealth can cover some or all of your medical expenses
  • Some public facilities are equipped with modern facilities and equipment

Disadvantages Of Philippine Public Health Insurance

  • Long wait times due to high patient volumes
  • Lack of specialized services and equipment compared to private hospitals
  • Many facilities may not be well-maintained due to budget constraints

Private Medical System

Private insurance is a better fit for the needs of most expats. Expats demand better service, comfort, and access to better-equipped facilities. With a private policy, expats can choose their preferred doctor or hospital and often have shorter wait times for appointments and procedures.

Private Hospitals in the Philippines

Most private hospitals are in major cities like Quezon City, Taguig City, Makati City, Cebu City, and Davao City. These hospitals also tend to be more expensive than public ones. Having private health insurance can significantly offset these costs.

Prominent private hospitals in the Philippines include:

  • Makati Medical Center
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center
  • Asian Hospital and Medical Center
  • The Medical City
image of a private hotel room in St Lukes Makati hospital
The inside of a private hospital suite at St. Lukes Hospital

Advantages Of Private Health Insurance In The Philippines

  • Shorter wait times for appointments and medical procedures
  • A more extensive range of services and specialized treatments are available
  • Better-equipped facilities and modern technology

Disadvantages Of Private Health Insurance In The Philippines

  • Higher cost insurance coverage
  • Limited accessibility, especially in rural areas
  • Some hospitals may not accept certain insurance plans or have high deductibles

INSIDER TIP: Using PhilHealth In Private Hospitals- Did you know that PhilHealth isn’t just for government hospitals? You can still use PhilHealth for private hospitals for covered hospitalization, treatments, and minor procedures.

However, not every hospital is a PhilHealth member. Before admission or treatment, confirm with the hospital staff to ensure the medical facility is PhilHealth-accredited to maximize your benefits.

Understanding Health Insurance Types in the Philippines

Your choice of public or private medical system dictates the kind of Philippine health insurance you need.

Public Health Insurance In The Philippines

PhilHealth is a government-mandated insurance program responsible for providing basic health coverage under the Universal Health Care (UHC) system for Filipinos. PhilHealth is funded through:

  • Government subsidies at the local and national level
  • Company payroll deductions and employee contributions
  • Voluntary member contributions

PhilHealth offers different membership categories and benefits, depending on the individual’s income and contribution. Currently, there are 8 types of PhilHealth members: Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Senior citizens, Lifetime members, Sponsored members, Indigent members, and the three categories most expats fall into

  • Formal economy members employed expats working for Philippine companies
  • Informal economy members – self-employed expats, naturalized Filipinos, foreign retirees, and foreigners in the Philippines who voluntarily or individually pay annual premiums to join PhilHealth.
  • Qualified dependents – Spouses married to Filipino citizens or children under 21 years of age who are unmarried and unemployed

Are foreigners living in the Philippines required to purchase PhilHealth?

Enrollment in PhilHealth is only mandatory for foreign nationals employed in the Philippines. If you work for a local company, you pay into the public system through your employer’s payroll deductions.

Unemployed or retired expatriates have the option, but not the obligation, to purchase PhilHealth coverage under the Informal Economy Member category, provided they have legal residency status.

screenshot of an expat talking the affordability of Philippines health insurance

Private Health Insurance In The Philippines

While PhilHealth is the only place to go for public insurance, private health insurance is provided by various insurance companies. Private insurers offer a wide range of plans that cater to individuals’ specific needs and preferences. Private insurance often provides more comprehensive coverage than public health insurance, including access to a broader network of healthcare providers, more in-patient treatment coverage, and additional benefits such as dental and optical coverage.

Local employers often provide private health insurance coverage as part of their expat benefits package on top of the mandatory PhilHealth contribution. The downside is that foreign employees can’t choose their preferred insurance company.

Foreigners not employed or sponsored by a company can choose a policy from the best Philippine private insurance company that fits their needs and budget.

Average cost for a 65-year-old male with no pre-existing conditions:

  • HMO Plan with a 1,500,000 PHP benefit limit is about 45,000 Philippine Pesos per year (roughly $815 USD).
  • Global Medical Plan with a $1,000,000 USD policy limit is about $3,200 USD annually.
screenshot of a private health insurance quote for the Philippines
Annual cost excludes medical care in the United States, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, and Taiwan

Travel vs. International Health Insurance

Another health insurance option for foreign nationals is travel or international health insurance. These types of coverage are suitable for expats living part-time in their home country and the Philippines.

Travel insurance typically covers medical emergency expenses, trip cancellation, lost baggage, and other travel-related incidents. It’s usually purchased per trip and can provide coverage for a specific duration, ranging from a few days to a year.

However, travel insurance with emergency medical coverage is NOT enough for most full-time expats. Travel health insurance does not cover preventative care, limits trips to 6 months or less, and includes a requirement to maintain health insurance in your home country.

A proper global health plan covers expats living and working abroad long-term. It offers more comprehensive coverage, including routine check-ups, pre-existing conditions (depending on the policy), and access to healthcare providers in different countries.

This type of insurance provides more flexibility for foreigners who may need to travel back to their home country for medical services or seek treatment in other countries.

Travel InsuranceInternational Health Insurance
Medical emergencies
Non-emergency medical treatment
Prescription medication
Medical evacuation
Repatriation
Regular checkups
Maternity care
Newborn care
Pre-existing conditions
Mental health care
Rehabilitation
Cancer treatment
Dental emergencies
Non-emergency dental treatment
Vision care
Trip cancellation
Trip interruption
Flight delay
Loss of belongings
Liability insurance
Maximum Age Limit

How PhilHealth Works For Expats

How much does PhilHealth cost for foreigners?

As foreigners, we don’t get free healthcare, but the cost of public insurance is cheap by US standards. The minimum contribution for foreigners to a PhilHealth ID card is:

  • Employed Expats – 4% of gross salary
  • Expat Retirees on an SRR Visa – $300 / 15,000 PHP per year
  • Foreign Nationals with an ACR-I-Card – $335 / 17,000 PHP per year

For less than $1 per day, expats get primary care coverage, including fully covered preventative check-ups, health screening and assessment, laboratory, and prescribed medicines, which members can avail of through the “Konsulta” (Filipino translation to the word “consult”) program (formerly called Tsekap, a playful translation to the word “check-up”).

Screenshot of the free preventative care benefits included in a Philippine health insurance plan for foreigners
Foreigners can access PhilHealth’s included preventative care and wellness benefits

How can a foreigner sign up for PhilHealth?

Step 1

Visit the nearest PhilHealth office in your area in person. Bring your passport and other identification documents required.

Step 2

Request a PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) office or download the form here and fill it out completely. Provide accurate personal information, local address, and contact details.

Step 3

Submit the required documents: Along with the application form, you will need to submit the following documents:
– Two copies of the PMRF application form
– Photocopy of your passport (including the visa page)
– Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) or SRR Visa or Card
– Proof of address in the Philippines (e.g., utility bill, lease agreement)

Step 4

Pay the premium: Pay the annual premium fee:
Foreigners- 17,000 pesos / $306 USD
Expats with SRRV- 15,000 PHP / $270
You can pay in cash, credit, debit, e-wallet, or other accepted payment methods at the PhilHealth website.

Step 5

Receive your PhilHealth ID card: Once your application and payment are processed, you will receive your PhilHealth ID card. This card will serve as proof of your PhilHealth membership.

INSIDER TIP: No Medical Requirements Unlike most private insurance companies, PhilHealth does not require individuals to undergo a health checkup or fill out a medical questionnaire before joining. Expats with preexisting conditions will not be denied coverage.

PhilHealth Payments, Coverage, Benefits

How much does PhilHealth pay for my medical bills?

Depending on the cost of treatment, PhilHealth’s fixed co-pay typically covers 20% to 30% of your medical bills. However, the actual amount will vary significantly depending on the type of treatment and the hospital you choose.

The variance is because PhilHealth pays the hospital for each medical condition based on a set price list. Regardless of what the hospital charges you, Phil Health will only pay a fixed amount for the treatment.

The good news is you have some control over your portion of the cost. Different hospitals will have different rates, especially when comparing government hospitals to private facilities. 

Shop around and find a lower-cost hospital, and you pay less. Choose an expensive private hospital, and you will be stuck with additional medical expenses to pay.

Here is an example comparing the cost (including room, doctor’s fees, and services) of the same procedure at several hospitals. The prices range from 35,000 PHP / $630 USD to 150,000 PHP / $2702 USD. 

Medical FacilityPublic Hospital?Cesarean (C-Section) Costs% Covered By PhilHealthYour Out of Pocket Cost
VT Capitol Medical CenterNo35,00054%16,000
Philippine General HospitalYes60,00032%41,000
Perpetual Help Medical CenterNo110,00017%91,000
University of Santo Tomas HospitalNo150,00013%131,000
Makati Medical CenterNo125,00015%106,000
St. Luke's Medical CenterNo100,00019%81,000
PhilHealth Coverage Amount 19,000
Source: iMoney.ph

PhilHealth Coverage For Expats

Depending solely on PhilHealth may not be enough for most foreigners residing in the country. Although it offers decent health coverage, it has limitations and exclusions that could expose expats to significant medical expenses.

PhilHealth’s main limitation is the fixed benefit amount. PhilHealth only subsidizes a portion of the treatment, not the full cost.

Look at the chart in the previous section showing the prices for C-sections. The fixed case rate PhilHealth covers for a Cesarean is 19,000 PHP. This benefit only covers between 13% to 54% of the actual treatment cost.

Additionally, foreigners don’t get all the PhilHealth benefits. A 2017 rule change excluded foreigners from accessing the most expensive medical treatments, including prostate cancer, heart bypass, hip replacements, and other serious but costly health issues.

Here’s an overview of what PhilHealth covers and what it doesn’t.

  1. Inpatient care includes accommodation, pharmaceuticals, laboratory services, operating room expenses, and fees for accredited healthcare professionals.
  2. Outpatient services include day surgeries, dialysis, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and select diagnostic procedures.
  3. Packages for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Developmeasthma and acute gastroenteritis medications
  4. Primary care includes consultation services, regular blood pressure monitoring, health education, and asthma and acute gastroenteritis medications.
  5. Comprehensive maternity care covers prenatal, delivery, and postnatal services and essential newborn healthcare provisions.
  1. Regular dental check-ups and treatments.
  2. Fees for specialist and private hospitals.
  3. Certain medications and treatments, especially those not listed in the Philippine National Drug Formulary.
  4. Certain chronic or severe illnesses.
  5. The Z Benefit package covering serious and life-threatening conditions, such as specific cancers, complex birth defects, and certain orthopedic implants are excluded
  6. Cosmetic procedures (unless medically necessary).
  7. Reimbursement for any room and board hospitalization (confinements) outside the country.
  8. Benefits for women about to give birth (WATGB).

INSIDER TIP: Age Restrictions- While most health insurance companies will deny coverage to older expats or raise the premiums for any expats over 65 years old, PhilHealth has no age restrictions to enroll. Even if you’re a hundred years old, PhilHealth will provide you with insurance coverage.

To contrast, private medical plans do not have specific exclusions for foreigners. Private health plans can also include vaccinations, vision care, dental benefits, and mental health, giving you greater peace of mind and overall well-being.

Foreigners in the Philippines should obtain additional private health insurance coverage to fill these gaps.

My article comparing the top private insurance for foreigners in the Philippines can help you choose the best option.

Why PhilHealth Is Not Enough Insurance For Expats

Expats should not consider PhilHealth as “health insurance.” PhilHealth is a government-subsidized co-pay. PhilHealth pays a fixed amount (case rate) based on your specific treatment that covers about 30% of your medical bills, not the total cost.

You must pay the remaining 70% gap out of your wallet if you don’t have additional private insurance.

Here are some examples of the fixed amount PhilHealth pays for common illnesses and medical conditions.

Medical FacilityPublic Hospital?Cesarean (C-Section) Costs% Covered By PhilHealthYour Out of Pocket Cost
VT Capitol Medical CenterNo35,00054%16,000
Philippine General HospitalYes60,00032%41,000
Perpetual Help Medical CenterNo110,00017%91,000
University of Santo Tomas HospitalNo150,00013%131,000
Makati Medical CenterNo125,00015%106,000
St. Luke's Medical CenterNo100,00019%81,000
PhilHealth Coverage Amount 19,000
Source: iMoney.ph

INSIDER TIP: PhilHealth Expat Exclusions- Another reason expats should not rely solely on PhilHealth for coverage is that non-Filipinos cannot use PhilHealth’s Z benefit package. This package covers the most expensive catastrophic illnesses, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia, early breast cancer, prostate cancer, and kidney transplants.

Additionally, foreigners cannot get room and board coverage for hospitalization (referred to by PhilHealth as “confinement,” a weird term, right?). Also excluded are special privileges (prenatal and maternity care) and for women about to give birth (WATGB).

Why is private health insurance essential for expats in the Philippines?

Private health insurance premiums are more expensive than PhilHealth, but they act more like health insurance plans that Americans and other expats are accustomed to. Private health plans offer a more comprehensive range of coverage and can be tailor-made to suit the unique requirements of expats living abroad.

Depending on the plan, private health insurance may cover inpatient treatment, medical tests, prescription drugs, or alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic care. Some coverage even includes medical evacuation to another Southeast Asian country (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.) with better-equipped modern hospitals if necessary.

Private insurance lets you choose the provider and specialist of your preference. Most plans have a network of affiliated service providers you can choose from, and some even offer the convenience of a telemedicine website or phone app. Depending on the plan, you may also be entitled to cashless hospitalization or reimbursement for medical costs.

Additionally, private health plans give you access to private clinics and hospitals, including the five JCI accredited hospitals in the Philippines:

Hospital NameJCI Accreditation DateCity In The Philippines
Asian Hospital and Medical Center2013Muntinlupa City
Makati Medical Center2011Makati City
St. Luke's Medical Center - Global City2012Taguig City
St. Luke's Medical Center - Quezon City2003Quezon City
The Medical City2006Pasig City

Living In The Philippines With No Insurance

Expats may find the cost of healthcare in the Philippines cheaper than in their own country and think it is better to go without private insurance and pay for healthcare costs out of their retirement savings or emergency fund.

screenshot of expat self-insuring in the Philippines
Self-Insurance: Many expats use PhilHealth + paying out of pocket to save money on insurance premiums

Self-Insuring In The Philippines

Either because of age, costs, or a misunderstanding of how health insurance works, many older expats decide to self-insure.

Expats feel self-insuring in the Philippines has lower upfront costs and more freedom and control over healthcare decisions. However, self-insurance poses significant financial risks. You may save a few thousand dollars in the short term for minor injuries or even moderate medical issues.

The biggest risk is the volatile nature of healthcare. You don’t plan on getting into a car accident. You don’t schedule heart attacks.

a screenshot of a foreigner discussing paying out of pocket for the low cost of treatment rather than buying Philippine health insurance for expats
Expats recommend keeping an emergency fund if you plan to pay medical bills out-of-pocket

If you get hit with an unexpected medical emergency or major illness, your out-of-pocket hospital bills can quickly blow through a meager $2,000 emergency fund. Your total medical expenses can easily outweigh the short-term savings of not paying insurance premiums.

Why Only Paying “Out-Of-Pocket” Is Not A Good Idea

I pay for most of my medical bills out-of-pocket rather than claiming insurance. The cost of medical care outside the United States is shockingly cheap. Here are some examples of medical treatments I paid out-of-pocket around the world.

  • Knee MRI: $200 (Philippines) vs. $2000 (US)
  • Platelet-Rich Injection Treatments: $100 (Mexico) vs. $700 (US)
  • DEXA Bone Density Scan: $25 (Colombia) vs. $250 (US)

However, I still maintain an international health plan to cover catastrophic medical issues.

Sure, paying for a broken bone out of savings is fine, but paying for injuries from a simple accident or an unexpected brain hemorrhage would be financially devastating.

Here are real-world examples of claims paid for expats injured overseas. 

China: $232,000 USD-  An expat suffered a brain hemorrhage while on a cruise and had to be medically evacuated by air ambulance.

Thailand: $159,000 USD- Then an expat slipped and fell in the bathroom and fractured their spine. 

Turkey: $103,000 USD- When an expat suffered a heart attack in Turkey.

Need more reasons why living in the Philippines without private insurance is not an option?

GoFundMe is full of expats who have had to resort to digital fundraising because they didn’t have adequate health insurance.

Unfortunate expats in the Philippines without sufficient medical coverage end up crowdfunding or relying on charity

INSIDER TIP: Unpaid Hospital Bills- While the government has past laws preventing public hospitals from physically preventing you from leaving, private hospitals can still detain you for unpaid bills unless you have private insurance that agrees to pay on your behalf.

Having adequate health insurance can save you from bankruptcy if you need access to specialized treatments, expensive emergency evacuation, or medical reparation.

Private Insurance Can Cover Emergency Evacuation and Air Ambulance Cost

Expats are drawn to the beaches and islands of the Philippines, but those 7,500+ islands make even an uncomplicated health condition like a hernia become a life-threatening medical emergency. Private insurance companies often offer additional benefits, such as access to medical evacuation and repatriation services.

Need to be airlifted from a remote province to the helipad at St. Luke’s Medical Center? The average cost of a helicopter ambulance is over $30,000 USD. What if you need a life flight to the UK? Does a $90,000 emergency flight to Europe seem cheap?

cost of emergency evacuation for medical treatments that are covered under private health insurance in the Philippines

INSIDER TIP: Paying For Public and Private Insurance- PhilHealth is cheap at less than $1 per day. Additionally, while health insurance provided by private companies has the best benefits, many expats have both a cheap PhilHealth plan and a more comprehensive HMO or PPO international insurance policy. Enrolling with PhilHealth is still recommended because PhilHealth is always considered the “primary insurer.”

Primary insurer means a hospital will initially bill the “PhilHealth portion” and then send the remaining bill to your private insurance company. If you do not have PhilHealth coverage, you must pay out-of-pocket for the PhilHealth portion of the medical expenses.

Key Takeaways: Philippine Health Insurance

At $300 annually, PhilHealth provides an affordable entry point for Philippine health insurance. However, expats must understand that public coverage is very limited. PhilHealth is a complement, not a standalone healthcare solution solution.

I highly recommend all expats supplement PhilHealth membership with a private healthcare plan that bridges the gaps, and includes inpatient care, major illnesses, and medical evacuation coverage that PhilHealth misses.

FAQs: Philippine Medical Insurance For Expats

Does the Philippines require travel insurance?

Travel insurance is not mandatory for entering the Philippines. However, it’s strongly recommended to have coverage for unforeseen events like medical emergencies or unexpected trip plan cancellations.

How much does health insurance cost in the Philippines?

Philippine health insurance costs vary depending on age, coverage extent, and provider. But, on average, HMOs’ premiums range from Php 10,000 to Php 30,000 ($180 to $550) annually. While PPOs can range from Php 30,000 to as high as Php 500,000 / $9045 annually.

Is private health insurance required in the Philippines?

Private health insurance is not mandatory in the Philippines but is highly encouraged. The country’s public healthcare system has certain limitations, but private coverage offers enhanced access to high-quality services, particularly for expatriates or individuals needing specialized care.

Does the Philippines have free healthcare for foreigners?

Not free, but close. Unemployed or retired foreigners can purchase an annual PhilHealth plan for roughly $300. This universal health insurance plan allows expats to access some public health services for free or at a reduced cost.

However, it’s recommended to have private health insurance for better coverage and access to higher-quality private healthcare services.

Is it mandatory for foreigners to have health insurance in the Philippines?

Expats aren’t required to have health insurance in the Philippines. However, having private health insurance is highly recommended to ensure access to quality healthcare services and financial protection against medical expenses.


We moved the comments to the New Expat Forums

  • Steven Wright Heath says:

    Is the Phil Health fee of 18K for an out-patient procedure (lumbar epidural) appropriate for an American with International Aetna insurance?

    • Hi Steven, I’m not sure exactly where you see the 18k fee, but let’s use your number as an example. Normally the amount PhilHealth covers is the government-subsidized co-pay. PhilHealth pays a fixed amount (in your example 18K PHP) to help reduce the total cost of your specific treatment. The remaining bill = total cost – the 18k. That remaining bill would need to be covered by your private insurance or by your out-of-pocket.

      If you are looking for specifically how much PhilHealth covers for a Lumbar Epidural, I recommend contacting PhilHealth directly.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    About the author

    Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]