An Introduction to the Healthcare System in the Philippines - FutureLearn (2023)

Understand the healthcare system in the Philippines, including PhilHealth, private healthcare, health issues, and more.

An Introduction to the Healthcare System in the Philippines - FutureLearn (1)

In general, the healthcare system in the Philippines is ahigh quality. Medical personnel in the Philippines arehighly qualifiedAlthough the facilities they work with are of a lower quality than those found in high end healthcare facilities in the US or Europe.

Although the state-funded public health service in the Philippines is of a generally good standard, it differs greatly between rural and urban areas. In the Philippines, private healthcare is more consistent; Private facilities are often better equipped than public ones. As English is widely spoken in the Philippines, there should be minimal language barriers for expats to get medical assistance.

In this post, we provide an overview of the public and private healthcare systems in the Philippines and summarize the main healthcare professions in the country.

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table of contents

An overview of the Philippine healthcare system

Although public hospital staff are highly qualified, public health in the Philippines still exhibits significant geographic diversity. The Philippine public health system is excellent in metropolitan areas but inadequate in rural areas.

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Large numbers of Filipinos depend on public health care. Still, there is a tendency for Filipino medical workers to migrate to Western countries, putting pressure on the system. As a result, some hospitals are understaffed and patients may experience a delay in treatment.

Philhealth, a state-owned company, oversees public health care in the Philippines. While Philhealth covers some medical treatments and expenses, such as B. hospitalization and non-emergency procedures, it does not cover all medical treatments and costs.

Philhealth registration is mandatory for foreigners working in the Philippines. Employers, employee salaries and the state all contribute to Philhealth. Expats can register with Philhealth if they are legal residents of the Philippines.

Despite health problems in the PhilippinesThe system is constantly being improved.. This is due to government measures that bring the country closer to a universal system. As a result, PhilHealth offers free medical treatment to all Filipino citizens. With the passage of the Universal Health Care Act in early 2019, PhilHealth expanded its coverage to include consultations and lab tests. In addition, all Filipino citizens are automatically enrolled in the national program.

What are healthcare management organizations (HMOs)?

The public and private health sectors are interconnected across the country. Healthcare Management Organizations or HMOs offer a wide range of services. HMOs are similar to private health care providers.

Patients are referred to specific service providers within a network based on a reimbursement system. Most Filipino employees are enrolled in an HMO as part of their employer's benefits package. HMOs and PhilHealth are complementary schemes, with HMOs covering costs not covered by the PhilHealth plan.

How healthcare is funded in the Philippines

The Philippines established the PhilHealth program in 1995 with the aim of providing universal health insurance at an affordable price. PhilHealth is a government funded and operated organization. It is funded by city and state grants, as well as corporate and employee contributions. In addition, the program offers a variety of medical plans based on income, age and condition.

An overview of Philhealth membership options

PhilHealth's six membership categories are:

  • sponsored membersPeople who are subsidized by the local government.
  • indigentThose with no income (or those with very low income) fall into this category.
  • life membersPensioners and pensioners aged 60 and over with at least 120 months of contributions. These members do not have to pay anything.
  • LargerSome people age 60 and older are eligible for free PhilHealth insurance. However, this is not the same as a lifetime subscription. Applies to seniors currently not covered by any of PhilHealth's existing membership categories.
  • formal sectorEmployees of public and private companies.
  • informal economySelf-employed, migrant workers and those who do not easily fit into the formal sector. This is a popular option among expats.

Differences between public and private healthcare in the Philippines

In the Philippines, as in most other countries, private treatment offers many additional benefits to patients. There are newer, cleaner and more comfortable facilities available. The staff is multilingual and waiting times are shorter.

However, you don't have to go to a private hospital to see an English-speaking doctor like almost everyone else does.doctors and nursesspeak fluent english. Many Filipino medical professionals work in English-speaking countries.

The healthcare system in the Philippines relies heavily on private providers. About 30% of the Filipino population uses the private healthcare system as their primary source of care. Most hospitals, almost 60%, are also private. In addition, medical tourism is an important part of the economy, which explains why there are so many private hospitals and specialist clinics.

Many public hospitals, especially in large cities, offer excellent nursing and diagnostic services. However, this does not apply to all public institutions. If you choose public health care, a local friend or colleague can advise you on which hospitals and clinics provide the best care.

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What are the requirements for PhilHealth?

The main requirement for PhilHealth is that you must be a legal resident of the Philippines; this includes foreign residents. The informal economy membership group is more suitable for most foreigners. Annual fees are normally less than $100. Foreign nationals married to a Filipino citizen can also be insured as dependents.

PhilHealth does not cover tourists and other short-term visitors. You must have your own travel insurance to cover medical expenses.

Health Options for Expats and Tourists in the Philippines

Expats who wish to register for healthcare in the Philippines must first contact PhilHealth. There is a convenient online registration process for those in the formal sector and groups in the informal economy.

Foreign nationals must also register with their local health care provider in time. The types of hospitals and doctors you have access to are limited. Many private healthcare providers, especially for foreigners, have significant wait times or limited availability.

While the government-run PhilHealth system is available to all Philippine residents, you may want to supplement it with a commercial worldwide health insurance plan. As mentioned, the private plan will be much more affordable than the public one, as there will be far more private hospitals than public ones.

They have shorter waiting times for treatment and better access to health services. Private health insurance also gives you the freedom to seek treatment anywhere in the world, even in your own country.

In the Philippines, private healthcare is well established and growing. While doctors at public hospitals are just as good as those at private hospitals, private facilities are much better equipped and treatment is usually quicker.

Locals find private services expensive, but most expats will find them cheap. The growing attractiveness of the Philippines as a medical tourism destination is related to the relative affordability of private treatment.

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Tourists should consult their doctor at least six weeks before traveling to the Philippines to ensure their vaccinations are up to date. In the Philippines, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and the chikungunya virus pose health risks despite low infection rates. Preventative techniques such as sleeping under a mosquito net and using insect repellent are the best ways to reduce them.

health problems in the philippines

The Philippine healthcare system is just around the cornersignificant problems- here they aresome of the biggest.

Brain drain

"Brain drain" -the emigration of highly qualified people from a country– is a serious problem for the Philippine healthcare system. Many talented Filipino doctors find work in other countries, leaving the medical industry understaffed.

There is only one doctor for every 33,000 inhabitants in the country, much less than in other countries. Furthermore, the problem does not affect only doctors. From dentists to midwives, the average doctor-patient ratio is low and showing no signs of improving. However, recent legislation provides that medical students receive funding to start their careers in their home country.

Deficiencies in addiction treatment and care

The fight against illicit drugsrelentless - Thousands of people accused of drug trafficking were killed on the spot. Furthermore, anyone caught using illegal narcotics faces lengthy prison terms.

Many users gave up for fear of dying due to street violence and interactions with the police. Where people have access to them, government rehabilitation facilities provide a safe haven from police brutality and "street justice", but most are overwhelmed.

Overworked physicians can no longer treat individual addicts. Activists also argue thatthe root causes of addictionhow hunger and poverty are not addressed. For expats and Filipinos with sufficient financial resources, treatment abroad may be the only option.

slow emergency response

The quality of ambulance services varies widely across the Philippines, a problem made worse by the lack of legislation on how ambulance services work. As a result, emergency services are often slow to respond and pre-hospital care can be inadequate.

Private ambulances typically have more experienced personnel and equipment, as well as faster response times. Monthly payments for private ambulance services are common or part of a general health insurance package. Ambulance services are available at many private hospitals.

Best Healthcare Jobs in the Philippines

Working in the Philippine healthcare systemwill usually provide you with stable and fulfilling employment. These are some ofBest jobs in healthcarein the Philippines, along with their wages.*

*Salary information from


average salary: PHP 483,500/year

Doctors are among the highest paid employees in Germanythe health industry. It is your responsibility as a physician to diagnose and treat your patients and to obtain their medical history andprescribe medications.


average salary: PHP 163,055/year

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Nursing is a highly sought after skill, both in the Philippines and internationally. The Philippines is one of the largest providers of nursing staff worldwide, providing around 25% of all international nursing staff.CautionIt is one of the most diverse professions in the medical field, whether you work in hospitals or clinics or want to help those in need as a Medical Assistant.

medical technician

average salary: PHP 178,458/year

Medical technicians typically work in a laboratory and perform tests such as urine and blood tests. They also provide data that needs to be analyzed. However, you must first earn a bachelor's degree in medical technology and pass the medical technologist licensing exam.


average salary: PHP 237,000/year

Main tasks of the pharmacist.containsDispensing of prescription drugsfor patients and expert advicehow to administer the medicine correctlywhile minimizing side effects. To become a registered pharmacist, you must first complete a bachelor's degree in pharmacy and then pass the pharmacy licensing exam.

Health data management specialist

average salary: PHP 325,000/year

If you enjoy office and administrative work, such as preparing and filing documents, this might be the job for you. health datamanagement specialiststhey are responsible for maintaining databases and preparing health reports. They also perform data analysis and validation to ensure existing systems are working properly.

Health Account Manager

average salary: PHP 205,659/year

Healthcare customer service representatives assist customers with questions about insurance claims and program coverage. They also help people place orders, solve problems, and find information about products and services. You can work in this field in call centers for health insurance companies or affiliated health insurance companies, or work directly for the health insurance company.

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final thoughts

Although the Philippine healthcare system has its issues, it is still of high quality for developing countries, especially if you use a private provider. Working in healthcare can be a rewarding and well-paying career.

If you're interested in learning more about health and working in this space, check out what FutureLearn has to courses. You'll find learning opportunities at world-renowned institutions such as Taipei Medical University and the University of Glasgow.


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