Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Evaluation of Local Medical Care

I recently had  cataract surgery on both eyes and as a result, I no longer need corrective lenses except for reading.  After many decades of wearing eye glasses, it's a strange sensation to be able to see well this way. When I wash  or go to bed, through force of habit my hands still automatically reach to remove eye-wear that is no longer there.

The  cataract procedure itself is somewhat uncomfortable but takes only about 20 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis. Nevertheless, it is surgery; and as such it's still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it was performed at an eye center in a shopping mall. Alternatively, my ophthalmologist who is one of the best I ever had,  also has a practice at a well-known hospital here in Metro-Manila, and I could have opted for it to be done there instead. But in many ways, the former was more expedient. 

Importantly, the cost of the operation which came to about $1,200 per eye including the artificial lens was about one-third of what I was likely to be charged  in the U.S. for the same package of services.  True, at my age I probably would have been covered by Medicare, but that health care plan is not available for Americans living abroad.  On the other hand, I do have Philhealth and a private insurance plan that I expect will reimburse me for most of  my out of pocket expenses. 

Back in 2008 I wrote a post that discussed how various countries in this part of the world, including the Philippine, offer good medical care at less expensive rates than in the U.S.  Since that time, I have consulted a number of local physicians and have had state of the art evaluation tests and treatments at medical centers here for various conditions and ailments (ah, the joys of aging). On the whole,  I can say that my overall experience has been positive, and I am convinced that Philippines does indeed have the potential to make a name for itself as center for medical tourism. It may be just a matter of time before this country receives that recognition.