Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cost of Being Cheap

I have to confess, I am kuripot. It is the Ilocano in me that makes me stingy with money. Also, I have known how it is to be hungry and needy at one point in my life. Life has been kinder to me since then but it has certainly made  me more prudent with money.  My Asawa always says I have only one criteria when buying/considering anything -- PRICE!  It is funny but partly true.

So why am I talking about this now? Well, because there was a lesson I learned just a weeks ago when my husband and I visited the doctor.  Since I had been worried sick about his diverticulitis, I have decided that the best place to go is what most people perceive to be the best hospital this side of Metro Manila -- St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City.

We went to Dr. Conrado De Castro and he prescribed Ciprofloxacin and Flagyl.  Apparently, the earlier doctor prescribed the wrong medicine, an antibiotic not specifically meant to address diverticulitis! You can say nonetheless that we were disappointed.  Considering the earlier doctor was also a gastroenterologist, it is a bit disappointing to think she didn't know what should have been a basic prescription for a basic ailment.

So, even though the colonoscopy from the said clinic/medical center is cheaper, we are thinking of two options 1) getting a colonoscopy from St. Luke's or 2) going to the U.S. for a colonoscopy from VA health facilities (my Asawa has a service-connected disability of 20%).

When we asked the doctor, however, how much a colonoscopy package would cost (doctor's fee and use of hospital facilities), he said that they have a package that covers not only colonoscopy but other procedures.  They are a bit pricey and at present not within our price range, but in 1 to 2 months, I think we can afford it.  As long as my husband's condition does not worsen within that time, we can consider getting a colonoscopy (plus other procedures) from St. Luke's.

We are particularly interested in the Cancer Screening Package for 60 year old and above.  The break down of procedure is as follows:


  • Blood Chemistry (CHEM 1)
    • Glucose (FBS)
    • Creatinine
    • Uric Acid
    • Cholesterol
    • Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
    • Triglycerides
    • HDL
    • LDL/VLDL
    • SGPT/ALT
    • Alkaline Phosphatase
    • Total Bilirubin
    • Total Protein (A/G Ratio)
    • Creatinine Phosphokinase
    • SGOT/AST
    • LDH
  • Alpha Fetoprotein
  • Cancer Antigen 125 (for female only)
  • Carcino Embryonic Antigen
  • Carbohydrate Antigen 19-9
  • PSA (for male only)
  • HPV-DNA Test (for Female Only)
  • Pap Smear (for Female Only
  • Fecal Occult Blood Qualitative
  • Chest X-ray (PA)
  • Mammography
  • Breast Ultrasound
  • Gall Bladder
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Prostate (for Male Only)
  • Colonoscopy
Inclusive of Professional Fees
(Net of Senior Citizen's Discount)
Male                 44,700
Female              49,400


  1. Did you ever read my post about the 286 tiles ? A great many things get done wrong, or not at all in the name of 'cheap'. And 'cheap' can indeed be expensive when tile work (or health) is concerned.

    I guess I missed the fact that you are Ilocano. Explains a lot ;-) My wife's maternal lineage are all Ilocano.

    When we were on a trip to Davao a year or so back, my sis-in-law decided to hire a taxi for an afternoon of shopping. I cautioned her that we didn't know the ropes there very well and we occasionally had a little issue with Tagalog speakers and Bisaya cab divers.

    "Not to worry" she said. ":I'm not offering him a centavo more than P350 for the whole afternoon, I know how to deal with cab drivers." Off she went.

    Turns out she got the afternoon charter for P325. The driver started at something like P450 and they bargained down to P325. The driver told her, in labored Tagalog, "I knew it was a bad day for me when you showed up, I could tell you were Ilocano from your first words, so I added on 50 extra Pesos to protect myself and still wound up taking less than they P350 I should have got".

    Actually, she gave him the extra P25 as a tip ... as a family story that was worth way more than 25 pesos ... Mama, God rest her soul, laughed all afternoon when she first heard the story and told and retold it for days.

    Regarding the laundry list of medical items I don't see TSP or an other thyroid function screen in there.

    When I first came here I had a physical at our little tertiary Base hospital here in Marilao. I was refereed to mother's endocrinologist who immediately asked me a couple questions including any history of depression.

    Oh yes! Oh my, how could she know that? Turns out our little P300 per office visit country hospital has a little medical knowledge that the USAF and a bunch of $100USD and up per office vist doctors might not have.

    She immediately prescribed a simple, cheap thyroid replacement, synthroid, and my life has been different ever since. T3, T4 and TSH, three blood test you should certainly ask the doctor about.

  2. Those prices are not too bad for the services included, especially if it is done at St. Luke's. They are just a little over $1,000 at P43 to $1.

    I just checked my insurance statements from my colonoscopy done in January 2006 and the total charges (hospital + physician) came out to over $1,800 before the insurance kicked in. That was in 2006 and just for colonoscopy alone.

    The information you're providing in your blog is indeed helping me in my plans to move there for good.

    Best regards.

  3. @Dave, yup I am Ilocano (father side), although I am just as Bicolano (mother side) as I am Ilocano. I like hot foods as do most Bicolanos. Although, honestly, I am more Manileno than anything else. I can't speak either dialect (Ilocano or Bicolano). Although I have an intersperse of both cultures.

    No, I haven't read that article yet, although I will. But I do still believe that not all cheap things/services lack quality. As I said in my previous post, my mother got her cardiac care in a less expensive hospital as St. Luke's but she got top notch care from doctors who also held clinic at St. Luke's. Also since it was owned by a religious sect, she was frequently visited by the priest and nuns.

    @Joey, I am glad that you get alot of information from my blog. That is my goal at least for those planning to make a move and have health issues to settle, on top of the other issues regarding moving.