Healthcare in the Philippines

Overall, the healthcare system in the Philippines is of a high standard. Filipino medical staff are highly trained, although the facilities may not be as impressive as those found in high-end US or European hospitals. English is spoken throughout the Philippines, so there should be few language barriers preventing expats from accessing healthcare.

While the overall quality of the Philippines’ state-subsidised public healthcare is good, healthcare in rural areas is of significantly lower quality than at hospitals in large cities.

Private healthcare in the Philippines provides more consistent care, and facilities tend to be better equipped than public ones. 

Before venturing to another country, make sure you have a health insurance plan you can rely on. Our international health insurance plans offer comprehensive health cover for when you are in your home country and abroad.

Doctors and nursing staff in public hospitals are highly proficient, but public healthcare in the Philippines faces some limitations. Despite having achieved universal healthcare, the Philippines still struggles with unequal access to medical care. As such, the standard of public healthcare in the Philippines generally varies from excellent in urban centres to poor in rural areas.

Public healthcare also faces strain from treating the large number of Filipinos who rely on it. There is also a trend of Filipino medical staff migrating to Western countries, which has resulted in understaffing in some hospitals and delays in treatment.

Public healthcare in the Philippines is administered by PhilHealth, a government-owned corporation. PhilHealth subsidises a variety of treatments including inpatient care and non-emergency surgeries. Both local citizens and legal residents are entitled to join a PhilHealth programme.

Private healthcare services are well established and growing in the Philippines. Doctors in private hospitals are on par with those practising in the public sector, but private facilities are much better equipped and treatment is typically faster.

Private services are considered to be expensive by locals, but are relatively cheap by most expat standards. The relative affordability of private healthcare can be seen in the increasing popularity of the Philippines as a medical tourism destination.

As the national health insurance plan in Philippines is still a work in progress, locals who can afford it tend to arrange private cover. For expats, it is best to invest in an international health insurance policy before arriving in the country.

Wherever possible, expats are advised to check with hospitals and insurance companies to ensure that their procedures will be fully covered. Furthermore, expats should opt for a policy that covers them for medical evacuation and treatment outside Philippines. 

There are numerous pharmacies in the Philippines. Many 24-hour pharmacies can be found in major cities and attached to most hospitals.

Although most medication is available in the Philippines, some prescription medicine may not be available in the country or may be sold under a different brand name. Expats should ensure that they either bring the necessary medication with them, or that there are viable alternatives in the Philippines.

Expats should speak to their doctor at least six weeks before travelling to the Philippines to ensure that their vaccinations are up to date. This includes vaccinations for conditions such as polio, mumps, measles and rubella. Covid vaccinations are also recommended.

Mosquito-borne diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever and the chikungunya virus are health hazards in the Philippines. Contraction rates are low, but it’s always best to adopt preventative measures, such as sleeping under a mosquito net and using mosquito repellent.

911 is the general national emergency number in the Philippines.

The quality of ambulance services varies significantly across the country with the problem being compounded by the lack of strict policies governing how emergency services operate. This may result in slow response times and poor pre-hospital treatment.

The public emergency system directs most serious emergencies to designated public facilities, which may delay emergency care if expats would rather use a private hospital.

Private ambulances generally have highly proficient staff and better equipment while also promising faster response times. Private ambulance services are often secured through monthly subscriptions, or their services are included as part of a medical insurance package. Many private hospitals also have their own ambulance services.