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Philippines: My health care costs
Old 10-27-2009, 05:15 PM   #1
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Philippines: My health care costs

I have had the misfortune of getting sick a couple times and developing a joint condition in my first year of retirement. Thought y'all might be interested in seeing what care costs here. I also describe in detail the process and waiting times to get X-ray and labs done at a hospital.

My shoulder problem is being treated in a regional capital, Dumaguete, where I live. The other two illnesses were treated in Cebu, the country's second largest city with better care and higher costs. These excerpts are from my blog Four Letter Nerd

Frozen Sholder - Increasing Pain

Consult with existing doc: zero pesos. We spoke during my twice weekly 90 minute physical therapy session which costs P 300 ($ 6.38)

Twenty minute office visit with second doc, including case history, physical exam, local anesthetic injections, deep steroid injection: P 700 ($ 14.89)

Twenty pain meds: P 1010 ($ 21.49). Drug is not available in the states so no comperable cost.

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Acute Bronchitis

On the other hand a 10 minute exam and discussion with the doc cost me P400, or about $8.25. The drugs cost about a third of what I found from the US discount mail order places.

-----------

Flu & Lung Infection

Getting the Flu is no big deal. I have also had lung infections. Not both at the same time, however.

Taxi to Doctor’s office: P 30, $ 0.63

Ten minute visit: P 400, $ $8.33.

Taxi to hotel to get more cash and ATM card because hospitals require cash up front: P 30, $ 0.63

Taxi to Chong Hua Hospital: P 30, $ 0.63. It’s a short walk but didn’t want to do it in the rain.

Get Patient ID because I’ve never been treated at hospital: Two helpful clerks, a two minute stand in line.

Digital Chest X-Ray: P 330, $ 6.88. No line at the radiology department. Took the bill to the cashier where about 15 people were waiting for their priority number to be called. Took my priority number and checked the board. Saw that priority numbers started with one of four letters. Didn’t bother to sit down because I had the next number for my letter. It’s good to be a foreigner.

Back in radiology I was directed to the door of the X-ray room. Three techs and no customers meant no waiting.

Next to the lab for the blood work, CBC: P 120, $ 2.50. Five minute line this time but again front of the line at the cashier’s window and for the blood work, drawn by a tiny, sweet, young brown angel all in white who’s smile I was not too sick to appreciate.

Next stop was the pharmacy. One course of Tamiflu: P 1044, $ 21.75. Cost at drugstore.com: $92.99 plus tax and shipping.

Antibiotic: P 1747, $ 36.02. Cost at drugstore.com: $ 180.43 plus tax and shipping.

Walk to hotel. It’s only 300 yards and the rain has stopped. Pick up a chocolate torte (P 8, $ 0.17) along the way.
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Old 10-28-2009, 11:27 AM   #2
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Interesting report. I don't think I could ever live in a foreign country, but it looks like it works for a lot of people.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post. I always find that kind of first hand FIRE abroad information really interesting.
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:40 PM   #4
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The problem is that you never know what quality of care you are getting in the Philippines. I have heard a lot of horror stories. And when I was there last year, I had to find better care for a friend who got an infection in his arm.

In fact, based on the preponderance of research and experiences I have had, I would almost consider medical care a negative to living in the Phils (for anyone outside of Manila -- I am not even sure about Cebu anymore). And for many expats it is ultimately their reason for leaving. The care in the provinces is typically pretty bad, and I could even tell you horror stories about Dumaguete. What I wish is that the care was 3x more expensive and higher quality but the economy does not support that.

The machines are really bad in the provinces, even in Luzon island not far from Manila. You are getting an MRI for cheap, for instance, but the resolution is really, really bad and can't be used for many diagnoses (another friend recently went through this).

That being said, there are a couple of hospitals I would really trust in Manila, Makati Medical and St. Lukes. In fact, these private hospitals are possibly the best medical tourist destinations in the world, even better than Bumrungrad, because there is less of a language barrier. For instance, St. Lukes maintains absolute state of the art medical equipment. But they are several times more expensive than any typical Philippines hospital.

So bottom line is that if I had anything serious wrong, I would probably fly to Manila to get it taken care of and just pay the money. For more routine ailments, local care is fine, if supplemented with your own research.

By the way, I will be back in the Philippines in a week

Kramer
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:33 PM   #5
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So bottom line is that if I had anything serious wrong, I would probably fly to Manila to get it taken care of and just pay the money. For more routine ailments, local care is fine, if supplemented with your own research.
Agreed, except I'd head for Bangkok instead of Manila. Maybe we have different ideas as what 'seriously wrong' means.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:39 PM   #6
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One way to cut costs is get part of a prescription filled. I get bronchitis, the docs give me script for a weeks worth of antibiotic and say come back in 3 days if you're not better. First I fill the three days. Never had to go back, so on day 3 I fill the rest of the prescription.

Yes, I know that one should take the full course of any antibiotic taken for any reason. I do that. I figure after three days the doc may switch antibioitics, making the next four days of these expensive drugs a wasted purchase had I bought the full course.
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:22 AM   #7
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Dental costs this time.

Checkup (no x-rays) with teeth cleaning (ultrasonic followed by fluoride treatment). Dentist did the cleaning. This dentist has modern equipment and graduated from a top Philippine school - in short, she's a dentist for the financially well off here: P 400 ($ 8.77).

One x-ray to see if there was any hidden cause of one tooth's sensitivity to cold: P 300 ($ 6.58) . The image was ready within 2 minutes.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItDontMeanAThing View Post
Agreed, except I'd head for Bangkok instead of Manila. Maybe we have different ideas as what 'seriously wrong' means.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer View Post
That being said, there are a couple of hospitals I would really trust in Manila, Makati Medical and St. Lukes. In fact, these private hospitals are possibly the best medical tourist destinations in the world, even better than Bumrungrad, because there is less of a language barrier. For instance, St. Lukes maintains absolute state of the art medical equipment. But they are several times more expensive than any typical Philippines hospital.
Bumrungrad is the famous hospital in Thailand.
Bumrungrad International Hospital - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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