Health emergencies are one of the top concerns of Filipinos – and with a good reason. The Department of Health described the current high cost of medicines, hospital bills, and illness-related expenses as one of the reasons why many families have fallen into debt.
I can attest to the common sentiment of “mahal magkasakit,” bearing witness to relatives facing serious medical conditions with expensive medical bills. So I decided to do my own research if HMO (membership for a health maintenance organization) and Philhealth are enough for me and my family. “Okay na ba na Philhealth lang, o kaya HMO lang?” In the process, I’ve learned that saving for our health is just as important as finding the right mix of health protection plan.
Philhealth is a government-operated social health insurance that is open for Filipinos. With this, I recommend that being a member of Philhealth should be our first step to protecting our health. It gives a discount on our hospital bills, which is automatically deducted from what we have to pay — a benefit that we are always grateful to enjoy. Majority of the HMO I know, requires their members to have an active Philhealth account first.
HMOs are commonly issued by private companies for their employees. However, for freelancers like me, we can apply for it voluntarily at a costlier price compared with the ones issued by a private employer. It covers doctor consultation and other medical services as long as the doctor, hospital, clinic, or laboratory are affiliated with the HMO provider, subject to the approval of an HMO representative.
After getting Philhealth and an HMO, I highly recommend getting a health insurance plan. “Why? Hindi pa ba enough yung Philhealth and HMO?” A friend who is also a financial advisor shared some of the benefits of having an independent health insurance.
- It can offer cash benefits. Some plans give scheduled cash payouts that are helpful in dire situations like health emergencies, especially when treatment for critical illness can become costly.
- It has flexible payment periods. Compared to an HMO that we need to renew yearly and could come with a premium increase, health insurance can offer different payment term options (for example 5, 10, 15, 20 years), for a fixed premium amount based on your age and health condition at the time of application.
- It rewards you. Some health insurance plans can be more rewarding than others. It offers cash dividends, although they are not guaranteed as these are dependent on the insurance company’s earnings. Some plans also offer yearly endowment benefits payable at prescribed periods of the policy’s term.
- It has life insurance protection benefits. A health insurance gives guaranteed life insurance protection that your beneficiaries will receive in case of your demise.
Which should I choose?
Philhealth, HMO, and health insurance have their own unique benefits and can even complement one another. All of them can save us from financial stress due to medical expenses, helping us protect our savings and health. The best prevention from diseases is to take care of ourselves through good habits, healthy food, proper hygiene, and exercise, but it will never hurt to take this to the next level by availing these three that can be just the lifesaver that you need.
Getting them are good precautions that we should take because we can never tell what the future will bring. While they are benefits that we prefer not to use, they are worthwhile to have in order to be prepared and protected from financial stress brought about by costly medical-related expenses. But when should we exactly get them? The ideal time is to get them as early as you can.