If you elect to live in the Philippines, one of the things that you have to keep in mind is health care. I mean, health care is relatively inexpensive here, but the costs can add up. You can get certain types of insurance, but the odds of having a medical plan as comprehensive as what you may be used to is not that likely.
I mean, for many expats, they may well be leaving behind a government medical plan. For example, Canadians, British and most Europeans have free, or low cost medical care as part of their Citizenship. Americans, for the most part, have health insurance through their employer. Yes, some Americans are uninsured, but that is not what we are here to discuss. It may be a hot political issue back in the States, but that has nothing to do with Living in the Philippines.
Most expats here have no real medical coverage. For daily medical needs, that is generally not that big of a deal, because doctor visits, even hospitalization is very inexpensive here, especially when compared to that in the USA. I mean, you can generally go for a doctor visit here for P200 to P300 or so, even with a specialist. When it comes to any kind of major medical problem, though, you could be facing some large bills.
For example, in 2001, I suffered a stroke here in the Philippines. I was hospitalized for two weeks, one week of it was in Intensive Care. After that, I had a couple months of daily therapy at home from a physical therapist. My hospital bill was less than $4,000, very cheap for that level of care. My daily visits from the physical therapist were p100 per visit (at my house!).
If you have any chronic illnesses, though, that require a regular regimen of medications, the bills can add up. I mean, you might not be hit with a huge bill at one time, but week in and week out, the cost of medications can really add up. Consider also that most expats who decide to move here to live are already at retirement age, or approaching such an age. People of such an age commonly may need a number of different medications to remain healthy.
In my case, I take several different medications on a daily basis. A couple of the medicines cialis that I take ring in at about $1 per pill. Not a huge amount, but if you can get it cheaper, why not?
In the Philippines, for several years there has been great debate about introducing more generic medications to bring down the cost of drugs. In the US, generics have been widely used for decades already, and are very effective. But, in the Philippines, generic medications can be very difficult to obtain. If you go to most pharmacies, they have the brand name drugs, and no generics.
Recently, though, I found out about a Pharmacy called The Generics Pharmacy. The Generics Pharmacy sells only generic drugs, and their prices are very, very cheap, compared to the regular drugs in other pharmacies.
As an example of the kind of prices you can expect, sometimes, if I get a bad infection, I take Cipro, a very strong antibiotic. Here in the Philippines, Cipro is generally sold under the name “Ciprobay” which is manufactured by Bayer. At The Generics Pharmacy, they have Ciprofloxacin, which is the generic equivalent. I always buy Cipro in the 500mg size. The Bayer version is around P80/tablet, or it was last time I bought it. If anything, it is probably more now, as I haven’t used it in probably a year or so. At The Generics Pharmacy, the price of a 500mg tablet of Ciprofloxacin is P6. Talk about a savings! That is more than 90% off of the price of the non-generic drug!
There have been some drugs that I have checked where the savings was less. On one of the drugs that I regularly take, the savings is 25%, but all of the others are much higher in savings. Even a savings of 25% is a huge amount!
The Generics Pharmacy even has a website (linked above) that lists all of their prices for every medication that they carry. They have nearly 400 branches, nationwide too. If you are in the Visayas or Mindanao, you will pay 7% more than the cost shown on the site, but that is only a minor amount compared to the savings that you will gain.
Here in Davao City we have two branches of The Generics Pharmacy in town already, and a number of others preparing to open.
I believe that once this Pharmacy gains a strong presence in the Philippines, and Filipinos get to the point where they trust Generic Drugs, it is going to have a huge impact in bringing down the prices of medication in the country. Right now, if you buy non-generic medications, the price here is sometimes more than you would pay in the USA.