Published: April 15, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance
Many Filipinos cannot afford hospitalization, what with the expensive healthcare cost in the Philippines. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that people fear the Coronavirus cost more than the virus itself.
The number of positive cases and deaths in the country and all over the world has been on the rise. As of this writing, over 5,000 confirmed cases and over 300 deaths in the Philippines have been recorded. Worldwide, there are about 1.8 million positive cases and over 110,000 deaths in 213 countries.
Nobody wants to become part of the statistics. But the invisible enemy—the Coronavirus—is unpredictable, so you want to be prepared for the worst. Somehow, it helps to know how much you’ll have to spend should you or a loved one get treated for COVID-19.
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There’s no hard data yet on the average COVID-19 treatment cost. Medical expenses for Coronavirus treatment vary depending on the severity of the condition, the hospital where the patient is admitted, confinement duration, and other factors.
If news reports are any indication, getting treated for the Coronavirus disease can cost a fortune. We’re talking about at least a million pesos here.
Take the case of a 60-year-old patient whose hospital bill had reached PHP 1.4 million in only one week. The patient was admitted to a high-end private hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa after getting rejected by other hospitals because they’re already at full capacity.
In an April 4 interview, PhilHealth CEO Ricardo Morales mentioned that the highest coronavirus cost his agency would cover so far was one patient’s treatment worth PHP 2.8 million.
Four days later, Morales noted that PhilHealth spent PHP 3.2 million on another patient’s treatment, the highest reported coronavirus cost to date.
In an interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph), a family member of a recovered COVID-19 patient disclosed the fees charged by a private hospital in Metro Manila. With a moderate case (no underlying medical condition), the patient was billed a total of PHP 1.1 million for his 18-day confinement.
The major expenses consisted of the following:
Meanwhile, the patient paid nothing for the first COVID-19 testing and ambulance service, which was provided for free by the local government.
The full cost of a COVID-19 treatment is too much for ordinary Filipinos to bear, especially those without insurance coverage. Fortunately, under the Universal Healthcare Act, all Filipino citizens confined in any PhilHealth-accredited public or private hospital due to Coronavirus are entitled to financial support from the government.
PhilHealth coverage for COVID-19, which is mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469), varies depending on when a patient is hospitalized.
PhilHealth is paying for the full coronavirus cost (including testing, hospitalization, and treatment) of patients admitted until 11:59 pm on April 14. The PhilHealth assistance is meant to help COVID-19 patients and their families focus on recovery instead of worrying about their hospital bills.
Hospitals are not supposed to bill COVID-19 patients. However, there was some confusion in implementing the PhilHealth coverage, resulting in some patients having to pay for a portion of their hospital bills out of their pocket. Still, they’re entitled to a full refund, according to PhilHealth.
Those who have already paid for their medical expenses can request a full reimbursement. Patients just need to present a receipt or proof of COVID-19 treatment to file for a reimbursement claim. PhilHealth will issue guidelines on how to get a refund soon.
After April 14, 2020, PhilHealth will keep on providing financial assistance to COVID-19 patients. But this time, PhilHealth benefits are different from the previous coverage. A new case rate package will take effect on April 15. PhilHealth will pay a maximum amount depending on the COVID-19 patient’s case.
As of this writing, PhilHealth has not yet issued guidelines on the new benefit package for COVID-19 patients. To get an update, follow PhilHealth’s official Facebook page.
You can save on Coronavirus cost if you have an insurance policy, whether from an HMO or life insurance company, that covers COVID-19 testing, hospitalization, or treatment expenses. Check with your insurance provider if you’re covered in case you’re hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Some insurance policies don’t cover diseases declared an “epidemic” or “pandemic” (such as COVID-19) by the Department of Health (DOH). However, several health insurance providers have waived this pandemic/epidemic exclusion and will pay for certain benefits of Coronavirus-infected policyholders.
For admissions until April 14, 2020, COVID-19 patients in the Philippines should pay nothing because PhilHealth will cover the full cost of Coronavirus treatment.
However, if you’re admitted to a PhilHealth-accredited hospital on April 15 onward, you’ll have to pay the balance after deducting the PhilHealth case rate benefits from the hospital bill.
If your personal insurance policy covers COVID-19 treatment, then the amount you’ll shell out will be lower. Or you may not have to pay anything at all if your insurance coverage is enough to pay for the balance.
The only instance you’ll pay for the full coronavirus cost is when you’re under self-administered COVID-19 treatment at home. According to the DOH guidelines on hospital admission, Coronavirus-positive patients without symptoms and those with mild symptoms are sent home for self-quarantine. Hospital admission is required only for high-risk cases such as senior citizens and those with pre-existing conditions (diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia, etc.).
Medical expenses of people infected with COVID-19 who undergo home quarantine are not covered by PhilHealth and private insurance companies. In such a case, they’ll have to shoulder the full Coronavirus cost of treatment on their own.
COVID-19 treatment in the Philippines comes with huge costs. Aside from financial loss due to medical expenses, patients also lose the opportunity to earn income for 14 days or until they fully recover.
Whether or not the government and your health insurance will pay for the Coronavirus cost, you don’t want to be in that dreaded situation.
Living under the enhanced community quarantine is stressful as it is. What more if you get infected with the Coronavirus? You’ll not only add financial burden to your family but also cause them misery. There’s also the risk of spreading the virus to your community if you often leave your home.
You and your loved ones can survive this COVID-19 pandemic without getting infected. Just stay at home, wash your hands properly, and practice social distancing if you really have to run errands.