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.


Robert said...

I am interested in insuring my mother-in-law, who is filipino and lives in Pampanga.
She is over 65 and is only partially covered, about 20%, under my wife's PhilHealth plan.
Could you give me an example of a local private medical insurance provider for Filipinos over 65?
I have not yet been successful in my web searches.

In addition, do you know of a local property insurance provider?

Thanks in advance.

Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your reply.

If you mother-in-law is under 70, she may be able to coverage from Blue Cross Philippines (tel (02)899-8001.) My wife and I began our health care policy before the older of us turned 65 and have not been canceled even though the older one is now 72. The only thing is that health coverage for us old folks is expensive (of course.)

As for property insurance, I'm afraid I don't have any specific company recommendations. However, a quick google of turned up quite a few search results hits.

Best of luck.

Miguk said...

Would you know if Blue Cross I have in the U.S. will transfer to the Philippines when I retire? Did you use U.S. insurance or did you acquire coverage there?

Secular Guy said...

I doubt it. Blue Cross Philippines is a separate company from the one in the U.S. So we acquired our BC coverage here.

Miguk said...

Thank you. One of the major benefits in retiring from federal service is carrying my BCBS over to retirement. Not being able to use it (much like Medicare) could be the deciding factor if I am actually going to go to the Philippines or not.

Secular Guy said...


You're most welcome. As it turns out while you can't "transfer" your BCBS coverage, you don't need to. Your present policy may well cover you internationally, just as mine does if I travel outside the Philippines. I'm going to try to input a link to a post about this topic, although I'm not sure urls will "take" on this site:

Whether or not it displayed, please contact your Blue Cross agent or customer service center regarding your concern.