As most readers know, I had a heart attack recently, June 26, 2016 to be precise.
Since that time, I have been inundated with questions from friends and readers… they all want to know, “what does it cost if you have a heart attack in the Philippines?”
While I certainly cannot give an exact number of what it will cost you in every event, since every case is different, I can give you some guidelines and an idea of what you might spend.
Keep in mind that the health care system in the Philippines is more or less a “pay as you go” system. It is not at all like the USA where your medical insurance covers you, and the billing is all something that you will work out after your are back to being healthy, or at least on that road. It certainly is not like some of our friends from other countries where the government covers your healthcare costs (although they are using your money to do it). No, here in the Philippines the cost is something you will have to pay before you leave the hospital and go home, so it is something that you have to monitor and consider each step of the way.
As I said already, each case is different. How much it costs depends on what caused your heart attack, how much damage was done, and other factors. In my case, over a period of 5 days I had 3 different times when I had chest pain. I thought i had experienced 3 heart attacks, but I am told that it was all considered 1 heart attack, because my heart was dealing with the same period of instability. I entered the hospital during the 3rd episode of pain. With the first two experiences, I did not think that I was having a heart attack.
Services at the Doctor’s Office
My first action was that I went to visit my doctor on the morning after my second experience of chest pain. He did an EKG in the office, checked me over and spent some time advising me. The cost of my normal visits to my Internist is P400. This visit was a little more, since I had the EKG, I believe that it was P1,000.
The next day, I went in to have a full series of blood tests, a urinalysis, and a 2D Echo-cardiogram. This was all done at the clinic where my doctor has his office. The cost of the blood tests and the echo-cardiogram was about P3,000 in all. Not bad at all. The doctor visit and tests were all paid out of pocket. I have PhilHealth, the government health insurance, but that generally only covers covers you if you are hospitalized. With PhilHealth covering the whole family for just P2,500 per year, it is so cheap that anybody living here would be crazy not to use it.
After all of the tests, and another talk with my doctor, it was a Saturday morning, we decided to get together on Monday for some follow up actions. The doctor advised me to go check into the hospital, but I declined, thinking that my issue had passed. I told the doctor that I lived right near the 911 Center, and I would call them for a quick trip to the hospital if I were to experience more chest pain. My doctor lives in the same neighborhood that I do, and he agreed with my request, because he knows that 911 is quick to respond, and I could be at a great hospital in 10 minutes or less. Unfortunately, on Sunday I experienced chest pain again, this time much more significant pain, so I ended up in the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
My time at the hospital
All of the hospital services that I received were performed at Davao Doctor’s Hospital. DDH is the best (and most expensive) hospital in Davao City. They have a very good heart center there, among the best in the Philippines.
I went into the hospital through the Emergency Room, got some treatment there, was stabilized and then moved to another section of the hospital. I was in the ER for probably an hour or so.
Next, I went to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for about 2 1/2 days. The Cardiac ICU is expensive! The cost to be in that ICU can be up to P30,000 per day, depending on what services you are using there.
After my time in the ICU, I was taken to the regular “ward” section of the Cardiac Care Center. I was in a private room at the Cardiac Care Center for 3 1/2 days.
So, after 6 days in the hospital, roughly half of that time in the Cardiac ICU, how much did it all cost? All expenses listed below are a total for 6 days. Let’s break it all down:
Room Accomodation: P12,127
Drugs & Medicines: P29,657
Professional Services (My Internist and my Cardiologist): P24,035
Total Cost: P98,838
That is a total cost for 6 days of hospitalization of US$2,102
I hear a lot of people say “PhilHealth pays half”. That is simply not true! A couple of years ago I was in the hospital due to a badly infected insect bite. In that case, PhilHealth paid close to 70% of the bill. This time, not so much. Why the difference? Well, last time, I went to a lower end hospital because I did not need specialized services. I was only in the hospital so that I could receive intravenous antibiotics, nothing specialized about that. So, I felt no need to go to an expensive hospital. This time, though, I went to the best hospital in this part of the Philippines. I went to one of the best heart centers in the Philippines, because I wanted the best care to handle a serious problem. Davao Doctor’s hospital is not cheap, but it is good. That is what I needed.
PhilHealth pays based on standardized costs. They also pay different amounts depending on what your health problem is. Different diagnoses are paid by PhilHealth with different percentages. Also, the amount paid is based on average costs based on surveys of all of the hospitals. The more expensive the hospital where you go, the lower the percentage of that “high end” bill will be.
So, based on this, the total bill was P99,838. PhilHealth’s payment? P18,900. Yep, only about 19% of the total bill.
Does it upset me that PhilHealth paid only 19%? No, not at all. I went to the best and most expensive place that I could have gone to locally, so it does not surprise me that they paid a low percentage of the bill. What I do know is that I paid only P2,500 to cover my entire family for 2016, and they already paid nearly 8 times my premium cost to cover just my heart attack. Also, I have had extensive eye surgery (if you wan to read about my eye issues and 9 eye srugeries read this and this) this year, and PhilHealth has paid more than 70% of those bills. So, I sure can’t complain about that, in fact I am quite happy with PhilHealth.
So, that covers my hospitalization costs to treat my heart attack. I had intended that later this week I would be giving more valuable information about extended heart diagnostics and care, information about things like the costs of angiogram testing, angioplasty and bypass surgery in the Philippines. However, when I started researching the topic, I found that the cost figures I found online were much different than the information that I had been told by my doctor. Because of this, I will delay that article until I have a chance to personally look into the topic more and get first hand information. So, keep an eye on the site if that is of interest to you, I will be sharing the information as soon as I am able.