Healthcare in the Philippines and What Retirees Need to Know

Table of Contents

One of the primary considerations when planning your retirement is the quality of healthcare in your chosen destination. Whether or not you decide to spend your golden years in a tropical paradise like the Philippines, your health should be a top priority. You need to ensure that healthcare in the Philippines meets your needs, at the very least.

Our article The Benefits of Retiring to the Philippines raised some questions about healthcare. Since this issue is very important, we figured it merits a full-on discussion.

Quality of Service

Filipino doctors have had top quality instruction abroad. While medical schools in the Philippines are competent and are at par with global standards, our doctors train overseas to widen their knowledge in their respective practices.

World-class Nurses

Filipino nurses are the best in the world. Why else would countries like the U.S.A., Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE demand Filipino nurses to work in their hospitals? Filipino nurses are compassionate and efficient. This is why they are preferred by hospitals all over the world.

According to the Department of Migrant Workers, about 17,000 nurses left for jobs abroad in 2019, and over 20,000 left the country to work overseas in 2015. These are only new hires. Add the numbers from at least the year 2000 and you can easily reach a million. The richest countries in the world welcome Filipino nurses into their workforce to take care of their sick and elderly.

It’s a perfect scenario of “brain drain”, right? Wrong. The Philippine government requires nurses to work in a local hospital for at least 2 years before they can seek employment abroad. They hone their skills locally, get certifications, and undergo intensive testing before they can work in other countries.

I am not saying that medical professionals in the Philippines are perfect. In fact, there have been cases of malpractice that resulted in the revocation of licenses. While there is no guarantee that all doctors and healthcare providers are competent, government sanctions prevent these professionals from performing short of their duties.

Hospitals and Health Centers

There are plenty of government-run hospitals all over the Philippines, the biggest of which are in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao. There are also a lot of provincial and privately-owned hospitals. While the quality of facilities varies, there are a good number of world-class institutions in the country. Examples are St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Asian Hospital, Chong Hua, and Metro Davao Medical and Research Center.

The Department of Health manages all aspects involving healthcare in the Philippines and provides accreditation to these hospitals. Public hospitals in the country cater to the medical needs of the masses, hence the crowds and poorly-maintained amenities and facilities.

Those who can afford private healthcare go to hospitals where facilities are more modern. Expatriates seek medical assistance in private hospitals since their services are personalized. There’s also easier access to important diagnostic paraphernalia.

In addition to hospitals, health care centers exist in most barangays. People access basic services like prenatal care, first aid, vaccines, and some laboratory procedures in these places. Health care workers render these services for free.

Health Insurance


PhilHealth is a government-owned corporation that provides affordable health insurance for both Filipino and foreign residents. In 2015, PhilHealth began including expatriates in their coverage under the Informal Economy bracket. PhilHealth members pay minimal dues monthly, quarterly, or annually. Public hospitals waive most fees, allowing patients to maximize their PhilHealth. In private hospitals, PhilHealth covers a large percentage of hospital and professional fees.

Foreign residents should register with PhilHealth and keep a copy of their Member’s Data Record (MDR) and record of premiums. To register, you only need to present a copy of your Alien Certificate of Registration and a completed PhilHealth Membership Form. Filipino citizens may register their foreign spouses as dependents. Hospitals require the MDR and premiums records for the processing of insurance benefits.

Private Insurance

Most hospitals in the Philippines accept foreign insurance policies. Medicare, the primary health insurance for Americans, does not provide coverage overseas. However, the retirement blog My Philippine Life says you may enroll in the Medicare Advantage program. This links Medicare coverage to an HMO (Health Maintenance Organizations) in the Philippines. In effect, the HMO provides you coverage and Medicare pays the HMO for any expenses incurred.

Private insurance providers like Intellicare, Maxicare Health Care, AXA, Blue Cross Philippines, and Insular Health Care also offer excellent policies. Most private hospitals accept policies from these companies. Some places like the Asian Hospital in Manila accept U.S. Blue Cross Insurance. Veterans of the U.S. Army can seek care in VA clinics.

To sum these all up, I would say that foreign retirees should not have problems with healthcare in the Philippines. Medical professionals provide the best care and most hospitals are modern. Foreign health insurance companies have no guarantees of coverage in the country but local health insurance providers are competitive and easily available to foreigners.

Best of all, healthcare is fairly cheap in the Philippines. The dollar goes a long way in Filipino hospitals than in neighboring Asian countries. You may also hire private nursing services for less than what you’d spend abroad.

If you have questions regarding this topic, please feel free to start a discussion in the comments below. See you around!


Related Content

Recent Posts

Stay up to date

Sign up to receive travel tips, resources, and news:

We will never send spam. Your info is kept private and secure.