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OFW Health Insurance: 3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Financial Risks

Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta

Last updated March 11, 2018

OFW health insurance

Are you ready financially for when you get sick or hospitalized abroad?

Without a health insurance, your savings may get depleted and your family may suffer financially when you're hospitalized. You know how expensive medical bills are. Even if your overseas employer pays for your OFW health insurance, you can't rely on that forever. How will you take care of your medical bills when your contract has ended and you've returned home?

So as early as now, get your OFW health insurance in place. Here are three ways to do that.

PhilHealth Benefits for OFWs

Members of PhilHealth who are employed abroad may avail of OFW health insurance benefits when they're confined in an accredited healthcare facility in the Philippines and abroad.

PhilHealth benefits for OFWs consist of the following:

  • Inpatient benefits: Doctor's professional fees and hospital charges
  • Outpatient benefits: Minor and major outpatient surgeries, radiotherapy, hemodialysis, blood transfusion, and primary care benefits
  • Z benefits: Leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.
  • MDG-related benefits: Select medical services for treatment of malaria, HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, surgical contraception, and animal bites

Requirements to Avail of PhilHealth Benefits

OFWs can avail of PhilHealth benefits only if they meet these requirements:

How OFWs Can Claim PhilHealth Benefits

If confined abroad:

OFWs (and even those with health insurance from their employers) or their family member may file a reimbursement claim at PhilHealth, except for confinements that take less than 24 hours. PhilHealth processes and pays claims within 60 working days.

Submit these documents to the nearest PhilHealth Regional Office or Local Health Insurance Office within 180 days after hospitalization:

  • Accomplished PhilHealth Claim Form 1
  • Medical abstract/medical record/medical certificate that indicates the medical services provided, final diagnosis, and confinement period
  • Operative record (for surgeries)
  • Statement of account
  • Official receipt issued by the doctor and healthcare facility

If confined in the Philippines:

Submit the accomplished PhilHealth Claim Form 1 to the Billing Section of the hospital prior to discharge.

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OWWA's MEDplus Program for OFWs

If you're a member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), you can avail of its medical assistance program for OFWs when you need more money to pay for your hospital bills.

What is MEDplus and What Does It Cover?

The Supplemental Medical Assistance Program for OFWs—or MEDplus for short—provides a one-time financial assistance of up to PHP 50,000 to OWWA and PhilHealth members who are diagnosed of or hospitalized due to a dreaded disease while staying in the Philippines or working abroad.

This OWWA program covers medical and surgical procedures for dreaded diseases, including the following:

  • Liver diseases
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Although its benefits are comparable to an OFW health insurance, MEDplus is not a health maintenance organization (HMO) per se, according to OWWA. It serves as a supplement to an OFW's PhilHealth benefits.

How OFWs Can Apply for MEDplus

To avail of this OWWA financial assistance, submit the following documents to the nearest OWWA Regional Office:

  • Filled out MEDplus application form
  • One passport-size photo
  • Proof of OWWA membership contribution
  • PhilHealth Benefit Payment Notice
  • Notarized Special Power of Attorney (if a family member makes the claim on the OFW's behalf)
  • A waiver that the information to be accessed from PhilHealth is for MEDplus purposes only

OWWA takes three days to process a MEDplus application upon complete submission of requirements and confirmation of PhilHealth benefit payment.

OFW Health Insurance Plans

PhilHealth benefits and OWWA's MEDplus help ease your financial burden when you need to pay your hospital bills. But you can't rely solely on these government agencies.

It takes time to receive your reimbursement from PhilHealth, and OWWA's financial assistance is minimal compared to your total medical expenses. Their coverage may also be not as extensive as that of health insurance providers in the Philippines.

You need to have a back-up for when you get sick or hospitalized. Before it's too late, get yourself an OFW health insurance plan that will get you covered even when you come back home and stay for good.

Some insurance firms offer health insurance products that cater specifically to OFWs. For example, AXA Philippines's Health Exentials is an OFW health insurance plan that provides PHP 5 million worth of medical benefits, covering 35 critical illnesses, including cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

Another insurance company in the Philippines, BPI-Philam, has a unit-linked health and life insurance plan called the Critical Care Max that provides medical reimbursement and hospital confinement benefits.

Final Thoughts

You've probably prepared for any medical emergency in your family back home. That's good, but it isn't enough. You must also protect yourself against financial setbacks due to an illness, accident, or disability that could send you back home. That's what an OFW health insurance is for.

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Venus has almost 20 years of combined experience in content marketing, SEO, corporate communications, and public relations. Most of her career was spent creating informative articles on personal finance and digital marketing. She also invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Venus graduated cum laude with a Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman. A hardcore Hallyu Tita, she loves bingeing Korean shows on Netflix while bonding with her cats. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.


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