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I am writing this article on Sunday, October 30.  Right now, I don’t know for sure when my coming heart surgery will take place, but I expect it to be soon.

Here is where we stand right now

Z Package from PhilHealth

Z Package from PhilHealth

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Over the past few weeks, we have been working mostly doing stuff for the insurance company, PhilHealth.  We recently found out about a special plan that PhilHealth offers called the “Z Package“.  There are Z packages for different types of medical needs, but only for major medical needs that are serious conditions.  For instance, we have been working on the Z Package for Cardiac Care.  They have Z Packages for Cancer and other serious conditions.  The Z Packages offer special insurance coverage for major problems that will be very costly.  As most readers know, PhilHealth usually only covers about a maximum of 50% of your hospitalization bills.  However, with the Z Package you can get a much better deal.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Nov 3 we received a text from the hospital.  I have been approved for the Z Package!  Hooray!  I am so happy.  Right now, I am tentatively scheduled to enter the hospital on Nov 8 with the surgery happening on Nov 10.  The day of admittance and the following day are prep days, and the surgery is always on the 3rd day.  After that, you will generally be hospitalized for an additional 4 days after the surgery for a total of 7 days in the hospital, but it can go a little longer, just depends on how you are progressing.  I am very happy and excited to get this thing done!

For the quadruple bypass surgery that I need and will be having soon, the lowest cost for that is about P850,000, about US$18,000.  This is just the cost of the surgery.  I have already spent about $6000 getting ready for the surgery.  If I had to pay the full cost of the surgery I would be out a minimum of US$24,000 if I spent no more, but you can bet that there will always be more expenses as things move forward.

If you go for heart bypass surgery and do not apply for the PhilHealth Z Package, you can still use your PhilHealth, but the coverage is limited to only P50,000.  So, with the minimum cost of the surgery being P850,000 and PhilHealth paying only P50,000, your out of pocket costs will be a minimum of P800,000 and I can actually tell you that by the time extra things creep in you will probably spend P900,000 or so out of pocket.

But, if you go through the steps to get the Z Package coverage, you can choose from a number of different choices.

You decide to pay:

  • P350,000 – If you pay at this level you will get the heart surgery and the very best private room available, a suite, at the hospital.
  • P250,000 – If you pay at this level you will get the heart surgery and a smaller private room.
  • P150,000 – If you pay at this level you will get the heart surgery and a non-private room at the hospital.
  • Free – If you are very poor you can avail of the heart surgery for free and you will be in the ward unit with multiple patients at the hospital.

What plan did I choose?

We have chosen the P250,000 plan for the surgery.  With all of our previous costs for heart care over the past few months, and the donations received through my GoFundMe page, we will be able to cover this level of care.  Thank you to all of my friends who have contributed to my GoFundMe to cover this for me!  It is really appreciated greatly.  I has been a great relief for me, I assure you of that.

What did we have to do for the Z Package?

Well, there are a lot of steps to take!  Here is a list of some of the things that we had to do:

Change doctors

In most instance,  I had to change my medical team.  Most of the doctors that I had been using were not participants in the Z Package coverage.  So, I had to change to a different cardiologist, had to choose a surgeon that is part of the Z Package coverage, etc.  Of course, this means a lot of time going around meeting all of the various doctors who will be part of the team, getting checked out by each doctor, etc.  It is a big job, but the amount of savings available by using the Z Package makes it all worthwhile.

Choose a Hospital

Mindanao Heart Center in Davao

Mindanao Heart Center in Davao

There are only a few hospitals covered under the Z Package.  I believe there are only 4 hospitals in the country that are covered.  There is one hospital in Manila (PGH), one in Cebu, one in Iloilo, and one here in Davao.  Luckily for me, the Davao Hospital that is included in the package is the hospital where I wanted to have the procedure done anyway, Mindanao Heart Center at SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Center).  Most doctors have told that Mindanao Heart Center is in the top two hospitals in the country for heart care, so I am very happy about that.  I had my recent angiogram at Mindanao Heart Center.  I found the hospital to be very nice, good equipment, good doctors, friendly staff all around.  So, I am very happy to be able to have my coming surgery at Mindanao Heart Center.

Tests and more tests

There are a lot of tests that you must have.  For the Z Package the tests had to be done at specific locations.  So, some of the tests were things I had already done, but to satisfy the insurance I had to do them again at the place that was specified.  This was a bit of a hassle, but not too costly, and well worth it to be included in the Z Package.  In the past few weeks I have had a lot of blood tests, urine tests, Cat Scan, MRI, Ultrasounds, etc.  It has kept me very busy, and they even found a few other minor problems that I did not know about, things I will need to take care of later after fixing my heart.  But, luckily nothing serious.

Medical Board Review

Last week, I had to go to Mindanao Heart Center and be interviewed by a group of 5 doctors that were selected by PhilHealth.  These doctors could not be people who were already involved in my healthcare team, they had to be independent people.  These doctors were to review and make sure that I was indeed in need of the operation and that I was a good candidate that would likely do well after the surgery was complete.

In order to be considered for the Z Package, I had to be approved by at least 3 of the 5 doctors who reviewed my case.  Thankfully, I got approval from all 5 of the doctors that reviewed me.  I also got some very good comments from several of the doctors.  I was told that overall my health situation is quite good, except for my heart.  I was happy to hear this because in the past years I have worked very hard to improve my health situation, so it appears that my work paid off for me.  Overall, each doctor felt that by having this surgery I could go on with a healthy life for many years to come.

Wait

Now that I have approval from the 5 doctor medical board, I am in waiting mode.  My application for the Z Package is now at PhilHealth for them to give the final seal of approval.  I am told that as long as at least 3 doctors sign off on the approval it is virtually certain from PhilHealth, so since I had 5 out of 5 approvals, I am sure that the approval will come through from PhilHealth.

What is next?

After the final approval is received from PhilHealth, the surgery will be scheduled.  The schedule for the surgery will need to be at least 7 days after the approval is received, because I need to stop taking some of my medications before the surgery is done.  This will allow time for these drugs to work their way through my system, and make the surgery much safer for me.  Since there are two holidays this week (Nov 1 and 2) I am not sure if the approval will come through this week or not, but it is supposed to.  So, I am hoping that my surgery will be scheduled some time next week.

What about LiP?

bob_martinWhat will happen to LiP while I am in the hospital?  Well, I have plenty of articles scheduled for publication over the next few weeks, so you will still get your daily fix of LiP articles!  Most writers have written an extra article or two so that I can schedule them while I am away.

I am scheduled to be hospitalized for around 7 days for the surgery and then the recovery time at home will be at least 1 month.  It can take up to 3 months to recover from this type of surgery, it is not an easy thing, I am told.  But, I expect that after only a couple weeks I will be able to spend limited time at the computer at my house, and I will check in on LiP as I am able.  In the meantime, my good friend Dave Starr has also agreed to take on an administrative role on the site during my absence.  Dave, I appreciate that greatly, and you are truly a good friend!

So, you can also follow me on Facebook to get any quick updates I am able to share from the hospital.  I expect to see seeing all of you soon back here on LiP!  Thanks again for all of your support!

Posted in

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Rease Wold
5 years ago

Congrats on the approval!

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  Rease Wold

Thanks Rease.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Rease Wold

I appreciate that Rease.

Dave Weisbord
5 years ago

Congrats and best of luck! Is the Z program relatively new? I can’t recall having heard of it in the past.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Weisbord

As far as I can tell the Z PACK is not well known. Not sure how long it has been around though. It was a real blessing for us to find out about it.

john.j.
john.j.
5 years ago

Best of luck Bob.

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  john.j.

Thanks john.

Bob New York
Bob New York
5 years ago

You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayer Bob.

Visit number 12 to Iligan City, northern Mindanao has come to a conclusion and as always another great vacation spent there. Leaving Manila today for the long journey back to New York.

Good Luck Bob and advance thanks to Dave Starr for minding the store in your abscense.

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob New York

Thanks Bob. I’m really glad that you enjoyed your trip, and I hope that there will be more to come.

LeRoy Miller
LeRoy Miller
5 years ago

Hello Bob:

That is great news. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers during this time.

I trust you will have a great and speedy recovery.

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  LeRoy Miller

Thank you my friend, I greatly appreciate your kind words and thoughts.

William Burrows
5 years ago

Prayers your way!

Bob Martin
5 years ago

Thank you William

Maria Dugdugan
5 years ago

My friend was advised to hug a pillow whenever he felt like coughing after his bypass. Patients who have bypass surgery hug (as hard as they can) the pillows when they cough to make it less painful.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Maria Dugdugan

Hi Maria. I have heard about that too! Thank you for reminding me.

Ron
Ron
5 years ago

Get well…all the best!

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  Ron

Thank you, Ron!

Luke Tynan
Luke Tynan
5 years ago

Bob, I have had several major surgeries over the years then worst were 3 related to prostate cancer. Plus I worked in Health care for 35 years before retiring, Please do not rush ur recovery. Be active as soon as possible- start off with light walks and rest. Let urn body heal and build up ur strength. I rushed mine and it took over 2 years to return to were I needed to be, instead of a year. Good luck and you will be in my prayers through this.

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  Luke Tynan

Thank you Luke. I appreciate your input. Don’t worry, I plan to focus intensely on recovery after the surgery. That is very important to me.

gary
gary
5 years ago

Thank Bob.. I believe I am on the right path now to additional enjoyment from your site.
Best wishes to your Hospital stay and I so appreciate all the information on the z package
and its requirements.

gary
and we have the email connection now also.

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  gary

Hi Gary – Thank you! Glad we were able to connect! 🙂 I’ll look forward to your participation on the site, and hope we can meet up soon!

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