Shopping for Health Insurance

I've always taken health insurance for granted because my parents are doctors, thus, I am covered by the doctor privilege where doctors don't charge doctors and their families professional fees. Also, I have Philhealth and my employer has its own health plan, which I heard was pretty sweet as well.

Besides, I've only been hospitalized 3x my whole life. First was for dengue fever, then a month after that for a liver abscess caused by amoebiasis (damn you isaw!). I was only in college back then and still a minor, so not only did my parents avail of the doctor's privilege, they were also able to take advantage of stockholder privileges and paid zero for room charges, as my mom held clinic stocks in that hospital.

The third time was when I gave birth and with Philhealth thrown into the mix, I paid merely Php19,000++ for a caesarian birth. Amazing I tell you.

But just recently, my brother-in-law was hospitalized a month or two after my sister opted not to avail of her employer's subsidized Maxicare privilege, thinking that her Philhealth coverage was enough. Wouldn't you know it, he was admitted when she had just started her Philhealth contributions, so she failed to meet the 3 month minimum for coverage. And after several tests and a week's stay in the hospital, their bill is now about Php60,000. Ack.

This made me reassess my own health insurance needs pronto. A quick research revealed that Philhealth coverage is sadly not enough and that my employer does have a good health plan BUT it only covers its employees and not their dependents. So I've been looking up health insurance for my husband and son, and my doctor relatives highly recommended Maxicare and Intellicare.

Intellicare doesn't offer individual or family packages though, so the obvious choice became Maxicare. Some more research led me to I-Care or Insular Life Health Care. Aside from the cheaper premium (about Php10,000 cheaper than Maxicare for the same coverage) and comparable services, I liked how I-Care would cover pre-existing illnesses upon renewal after one year of coverage.

I'm really leaning towards I-Care now, but I still need some more convincing because if it's really the shizz, then why do the doctors I know recommend Maxicare and Intellicare? Does I-Care have some sort of dirty secret? Hmmm....

I'm also tempted to get the Maxicare prepaid cards for emergency cases (MyMaxicare EReady) and 6 common illnesses (MyMaxicare LITE). Basically, these are single use cards which have a maximum value of Php15,000 for emergency situations and Php25,000 for the enumerated illnesses (i.e.dengue, cholera, typhoid and paratyphoid, malaria, gastroenteritis and pneumonia.), and are good for one year upon registration. The price point is super affordable at Php500++ and Php1000++ for each card, and I'm thinking that with those cards + Philhealth + a healthy emergency fund, I can get away without health insurance and save Php20,000 -Php40,000 annually in the process.

But as these things usually go, and as my sister and brother-in-law have proven, doing without adequate health insurance can lead not only to physical pain, but also to financial pain. So I think I'll be getting the vanilla coverage for my husband. But from which company? Maxicare or I-Care? What do you think?


Shucks, I feel your confusion. I have been digging for some health insurance information in the Philippines and it gets so confusing.

I will be following your post about this matter.
Jillsabs said…
I'm waiting for ICare to reply, and if it's satisfactory then I'll probably go with them because of how they handle pre-existing conditions and the lower premium rate.

For you I think you should go with Maxicare because you'll be settling in Pagadian when you come back right? And Maxicare has the widest nationwide coverage among the local HMOs.
Janice said…
I guess the coverage depends on the package that you choose. Like for me, I used to have maxicare when I was employed. the package that my employer chose didn't cover pre-existing illnesses but i can enroll max of 2 dependents for an additional fee. I think I paid almost 1k monthly for my parents as my dependents. My husband on the other hand, was provided with maxicare health card by his company which covers 2 dependents for free and also accepts pre-existing illnesses. he was barely a month in the company when his mom was hospitalized and the bill was more than 50k, but maxicare covered everything even if it was a pre-existing illness.

I can't speak for other health cards because I only had maxicare but when it comes to their customer service and how they assist patients who want to avail of the coverage, i would say that maxicare really delivers.
Jillsabs said…
So much praise talaga for Maxicare! I'm glad to know that there's a reliable HMO in the Philippines :)
Anonymous said…
I think it would be good to consider that thing that not all doctors are accredited by a certain healthcard. For example, you have a doctor, and your health card is intellicare, even if you still have a health card, you might still need to pay for the professional fee since the doctor is not accredited on Intellicare and the health card will not shoulder that cost.
Jillsabs said…
I'm actually not concerned about doctor's professional fees because they're usually affordable. What I want to take out health insurance for are the medical emergencies and sickness that would lead to in-patient care, because that's precisely the sort of thing that drains finances.
Anonymous said…
You might want to look at Kaizen from IMG. I'm not really sure about their product but I heard it focuses on health insurance and is a pretty good investment as well.
Jillsabs said…
Thanks! Will check it out too.
Anonymous said…
Was able to dig some info.
I really value your judgment when it comes to healthcare. Please do check them and if possible let us know what you think about them :)
Izza Glino said…
This is such an informative post. Mahirap din mamili when it comes to health insurance.

Jillsabs said…
I checked out the Kaiser Health Groups website and was appalled with the typo and grammatical errors! Parang what kind of a company will allow themselves to be represented by such a haphazard website? It might sound shallow but if you can't even get a simple thing as a website right, then I really doubt your product offerings.

Besides that though, Kaiser has limited hospital partners so that's a turn-off for me.
Frugalexpat said…
I have been searching for health insurance too.

As an OFW, I see this as one of the vital investment I have to make considering the expensive medical cost in Pinas.

I did some research and found a good one but they don't offer the health benefits for OFWs. Sad.

I have Kaiser but I am not really very happy with it. I actually wanted to stop it but I have started my contributions already. So sayang din.

Last June I found one for my hubby and it accepts OFWs.
Lyn Lyn said…
Hello Ate Jill,

Just want to share our good experience for Intellicare. My elder brother has enrolled both of my parents on his Intellicare privilege. He pays an extra fee for this (I am not sure how much) - but the insurance coverage is worth it all. My brother is working in Manila, while both my parents are in Bacolod City. My mom got hospitalised for 2 weeks a year ago, and she only paid Php50 for miscellaneous fees in a private hospital in Bacolod. It is also the same case with my father when he got confined for neck injury last December for 4 days. Also, they go to hospital for general check-up without paying for anything, as long as they just show their Intellicare cards. =)
Jillsabs said…
What health insurance is that?
Jillsabs said…
Hi Lyn Lyn,

I looked into Intellicare too, but it only has corporate accounts, it doesn't accept individual and family coverage :(
TrixSan20 said…
�� will follow your post. Want to know which one is better especially in pre existing illness.
Frugal Expat said…
Hi Jill,

It is actually an insurance with health benefits. If ever you are diagnosed with critical illness, then they will pay you a certain amount depends on your policy.

Alam mo naman, as we age, lumalabas na yong mga sakit na mamahalin. lol!

Anonymous said…
Hi Frugal Expat! Ask ko lang po sana kung Philamlife Health Invest po ba yan? OFW din po kasi ako. TIA and God bless!
Lianne said…
Hi Ate Jill,

I got Maxicare eReady as I'm paranoid too! My friend's an agent.

I saw you are also thinking about the emergency cases leading to in-patient care. I think Philcare's ER Vantage card is also helpful for this scenario.

I recently made a post about this also, since as mentioned, I'm really paranoid about health-related finances. You may want to check it out:
Weng said…
Hi. Do you know any health card that covers the elderly? My parents are on their early 70s and I'm interested to get them health insurance. Thx so much in advance great website by the way very informative. ��
Jillsabs said…
Hi Weng,

I know Blue Cross has a special plan for senior citizens. Philhealth also has mandatory coverage for all senior citizens, regardless if they were previous members.
Anonymous said…
Hi Jill, did you ever settle on a health insurance? Which one did you choose? Currently shopping or one too and I'm leaning towards Blue Cross. 25K annual premium, 1.5M amount, for my 37 y/o husband.
Jillsabs said…
I settled on Maxicare for my husband with a yearly premium of 40k++. After paying for the first quarter, I moved jobs and found that we could no longer afford the premium, so I stopped paying the premium and got him a Maxicare Eready card instead. It's essentially a one time use card that will cover up to 15k of emergency and hospitalization expenses and cost 800p.

With Eready, Philhealth and our emergency funds, we should be able to deal with his hospitalization expenses. But I'm also banking on my new employer's health benefits (once I qualify) since they're pretty generous and I think family members are also covered.

Popular Posts