Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Health Concerns .. The Continuing Saga

Being into around nine months in my husband's stay in the Philippines, the MAJOR (MAJOR) concern is still and will always be his health.  Now don't get me wrong, my husband is not disabled, or incapacitated in any way, but he certainly has health issues that require constant monitoring, and thus an equivalent allocation in expenditure.

As you know, a few months ago, I attempted to get my husband into my health plan.  I was fully aware that most of his pre-existing conditions would not be covered (i.e. he had a nephrectomy because of renal carcinoma around 1992, a back surgery, and a high blood pressure).  These are things I am fully aware of, but my only purpose in getting him into my health plan was to ensure that any other medical conditions brought about by his stay in a new land, can be addressed if it ever happens.  I wanted to be able to ensure that he is well taken cared of if let's say he contracts dengue, meets into a traffic accident, etc.  But apparently, because of old-time pre-existing conditions (his nephrectomy is more than 20 years old!), he was declined by my health plan. 

I really get irritated with health insurance, they always want to insure those who hardly need it.  I for one have had my present health plan for the last six years, and I have never once gotten hospitalized.  They wouldn't even cover pregnancy if I ever should get pregnant.  Honestly, their declining my husband is really what I just needed to look for another health plan that would offer better coverage for myself, and will allow coverage for my husband even to a limited extent.

With all these health concerns, I always adhere to the maxim that prevention is better than cure, thus, we spend on whatever diagnostic procedure is required to ensure that all his health conditions are well-monitored.  Which brings to mind the necessity of budgeting for diagnostic procedures and medicines apart from the maintenance medicines.  Since my husband has no medical coverage, there is also a need to have emergency medical money to cover for medical expenses.  My estimate is the safe amount would be around P100,000.  They would cover for any emergency medical expense but would certainly not cover such things as a heart bypass which I heard would cost from half a million to one million pesos, depending on the hospital you want to have the operation in.

Another matter that has come to my attention, is the excessive sugar in the Filipino diet.  My husband doesn't have a high blood sugar, but since he lived here, his blood sugar has gotten slightly elevated.  I think it is primarily due to most of the Filipino food products containing sugar.  Although my husband carefully reads the ingredients in anything he buys, apparently some of the information in the products are misleading.  I guess you can say there isn't really any truth in advertising here! :p

At present we are working on getting a colonoscopy.  But we have had to wait until his colon relaxes (he is in a liquid or easily-soluble diet for a few days) and the inflammation subsides.  

In this regard, I am beginning to think we have to seriously think about going back to the U.S., if only to ensure that he would get some form of assistance for his medical conditions.  

P.S. On the VA health plan, unfortunately only his service-connected disability is covered.  Non-service connected health concerns are not covered in the Philippine VA centers. 


  1. I really feel your concern and understand your situation. I moved to the Philippines last year with my Filipina wife and had a kidney stone attack this past February. Our Blue Cross plan I had from the States did not cover us since my stay was less than 24 hours and was considered emergency care. It's been difficult to find any hospital that will take our insurance. We considered going back to America, but my health has been fine since the attack. I hope your husband's health improves. I am also a veteran, but like you state, non-service connected health issues are not covered in the Philippines VA centers.

  2. yes, it is certainly my biggest concern. I hate to be helpless in regard to caring for my loved ones. Unfortunately, he has no health insurance whatsoever. So we are paying everything out of the pocket. We certainly can afford it so far, since it seems at such minimal cost right now. But I worry if there ever comes a time for a major surgery. Can I bring him to the U.S. and will he qualify for any program? Considering that he is already 63. The plane ticket won't be a problem, I just want to be sure he is treated there when a major surgery is ever needed.

  3. The cost of healthcare has skyrocketted in the U.S. My late parents (who passed away two years ago in the Philippines) decided to retire there because my father needed homecare in his advanced years and had respiratory complications. He was 84 years old when he passed away.

    I will give some estimates of health care costs in the U.S. just for some references. My husband who had kidney stones - went through lithroscophy" and was released from the hospital the same day for homecare. The costs without insurance was $23,000.00. Our deductible was $3,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance. My monthly insurance bill for my husband and I is $420.00 per month with 60% contribution from the University. If we took private insurance, it would be $900.00 per month.

    The conservative estimate of homecare costs for the elderly is estimated at $40,000.00 per year, out of pocket. This estimate was released by the Extension Service from New Mexico State University. I am seriously thinking of going the same retirement route as my parents did when I retire.

    By the way, my father received excellent care from the Doctor's Hospital in Cebu City. (My mother died of a collision accident and did not require healthcare before she died.) Their retirement pensions from the U.S. afforded them their caregivers, hospitalization, medicines, and homecare doctor's visits. They would not have the quality of care here in the U.S. (My sister in laws are nurses in the U.S. - and contributed suggestions as to their care while they were still living in the Philippines.)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences as it helps me evaluate my strategy for retiring someday. Best wishes to you and your husband.

  4. Hi Roselyn! Yes, after your comment and even my husband's general disdain over the outcome of the universal healthcare proposed by Obama, we seem to have gravitated more towards staying here.

    With my husband's pension, private and public retirement plans, Veteran's Affairs assistance and my own salary, we should be able to survive our situation I think.