Healthcare in the Philippines

Updated 2023-07-06 16:14

The Philippines consists of more than 7,600 islands. Bearing that in mind, health care services are available almost everywhere with public and private options. You are advised to seek information regarding required vaccination and other conditions to be fulfilled before traveling to this region.

The health system in the Philippines

The Department of Health (DOH) is the country's main authority on health in the Philippines. Their four primary sources of health financing include the national and local government, government and private insurance, user out-of-pocket fees, and donors. The local health care system is close to the average, which is rather fair compared to many Asian countries. To obtain health care services, you can visit the following top hospitals in the country:

The National Health Facility Registry is a useful website containing a master list of all health facilities in the Philippines.

Good to know:

St. Luke's Medical Center is recognized as the leading and most respected healthcare institution in the Philippines. Its two facilities in Quezon City and Global City, Taguig, are at par with the most advanced hospitals around the world.

Public healthcare in the Philippines

Public healthcare in the Philippines is administered by PhilHealth, a government-owned corporation. PhilHealth subsidizes a variety of treatments, including inpatient care and non-emergency surgeries. Both local citizens and legal residents are entitled to join a PhilHealth program.

Private healthcare in the Philippines

Private healthcare In the Philippines is well-established and growing. Although doctors at public hospitals are just as good as those in private hospitals, private institutions are far better equipped, and treatment is usually faster. Locals consider private services expensive, but most expats may find them cheap.

Public versus private healthcare in the Philippines

What is the difference between public and private healthcare in the Philippines?

Public hospitals in the Philippines focus on preventive healthcare, while private hospitals concentrate on curative services. Increasing incidences of hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, heart and lung problems, obesity, and malnutrition contribute to the strain on the Philippine healthcare system. Private facilities provide specialized care in areas such as cardiovascular disease or orthopedics. Private care in the Philippines usually means additional comfort for patients.

Doctors in the Philippines

Many Filipino doctors have been trained in US medical schools. Some of them even began their careers in the United States before moving to the Philippines to serve their fellow citizens. Others were trained in the best Philippine universities and medical schools. The same applies to nurses.

Medication in the Philippines

You are not likely to get medication without a prescription in the Philippines, even if you are a foreigner. In fact, local laws are very strict in this regard. Besides their quality service and level, you will not be able to force pharmacists to sell medication to you without a prescription. However, medication prices are affordable. Note that you can find pharmacies almost everywhere in the country. You should be able to communicate with the pharmacists pretty easily if you speak English.

Health insurance in the Philippines

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) is the administrator of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) in the country. All employees in the Philippines, including foreigners, are eligible for the PhilHealth. Employers and employees, as well as local and national government subsidies, finance this insurance system.

As announced earlier this year, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) contribution for 2023 will remain at 4 percent premium rate, just like last year, with an income ceiling of PHP80,000 monthly.  If a resident expat earns more than PHP80,000, their contribution will still be only PHP3200 per month.

What is the Difference Between Health Insurance, PhilHealth, and HMO in the Philippines?

There are three types of medical insurance in the Philippines that you can choose from.

Let's take a look at what their differences are.


The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, or PhilHealth, is a government-run insurance provider. Compared to private providers, this type of insurance is more affordable.  PhilHealth has an established insurance program that provides financial assistance to Filipino citizens who are employed or otherwise and in need of medical attention or surgery. If you are an employee, half of your monthly contribution will be shouldered by your employer, and the other half will be deducted from your salary.


HMO or Health Maintenance Organizations are private organizations providing healthcare insurance to members.  Their difference with private health insurance is their network of doctors and healthcare providers. Their members can only avail of the benefits from those within that network.

The plans that are offered by HMOs are often customizable, but there is usually a limit to how much financial assistance you can get in a year. The higher the premium you are paying, the bigger your annual allowance will be, too.   There are several HMO providers in the country, but the most popular ones are Maxicare and MediCard. HMO membership is usually provided by private companies to their employees on top of their PhilHealth contribution.

Private health insurance

Unlike HMOs, which offer access to a limited network of healthcare providers, private health insurance companies offer access to a more extensive network. It is not that common for companies to offer this type of insurance as a part of their benefits package, although there are a few that do.

Private health insurance premiums can be a little pricey. They are fully paid for by individuals voluntarily if they want to be insured. If you want your family members to be covered, that would be at an additional cost. Note that this only applies to immediate family members.

These private health insurance companies are comparable to international ones, and some of their policies still apply even when the insured member is out of the country. The most well-known private health insurance providers in the country include Manulife, PRU Life U.K., and Sun Life.

PhilHealth, HMOs, and private health insurance providers share the same goal of covering their member's medical bills and expenses.  It is their approach or their method of transmitting their services that vary.

Good to know:

In January 2023, the Philippines Institute for Development Studies stated that PhilHealth's population coverage was high in most island groups, but some provinces had only over a 50-percent coverage, which must be prioritized to achieve universal PhilHealth coverage.


PhilHealth generally makes refunds within 60 days following the request. However, according to the latest regulations, it is required to refund 75% of the amount immediately and the rest once the application is processed.

To date, PhilHealth has satisfied 90% of all claims within the 60 days period. The remaining 10% represent requests made by patients themselves or health care providers such as hospitals.

International health insurance in the Philippines

Alternatively, there are many international insurance companies that provide coverage in the Philippines, depending on your needs and budget. Some of the leading international health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers and get a free quote on's Health Insurance for expatriates in the Philippines page.

Health risks in the Philippines

The World Health Organization Director-General has declared an end to the COVID-19 emergency yet considers COVID-19 an ‘ongoing health issue.'

Although the Philippines reopened its borders, it is still important to be aware of the COVID-19 precautions, have the correct vaccinations, and have the option to wear a mask which is still prevalent in Philippine cities.

When moving to the Philippines, you should also take into account health risks to which you might be exposed, such as dengue, malaria, typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis, rabies, etc. To better protect yourself, make sure to update your vaccines before traveling to the Philippines.

Pregnancy and childbirth in the Philippines

Pregnancy is both a special and stressful time for expectant mothers. These feelings can be doubled for expat living in a foreign country. Things to be aware of are the insurance packages available for foreign residents. Check whether you need private health insurance or whether it is possible for pregnant expats in the Philippines also to be covered by the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth)

Your type of health insurance will dictate which hospital is available for you. Private hospitals are recommended as public hospitals can lack updated equipment (although they will have a super friendly staff). This also applies to prenatal and postnatal care.

The cultural nuances around pregnancy in the Philippines are not as different as in Western countries.  Small ‘old wives tales' for good luck can be heard, and after giving birth, the mother is treated with reverence and is normally treated to many days of relaxation and gifts.

Choosing a gynecologist in the Philippines depends on your geographical location within the Philippines due to the sheer size of the country. For more detailed  information, check out our article about Pregnancy and childbirth in the Philippines.

Emergencies in the Philippines

In the unfortunate event of an emergency in the Philippines, an ambulance and an Emergency Room will be called for. In remote areas, police vans can double up as ambulances, and in more urban areas, a state hospital ambulance can be summoned by calling 911 (previously 117). Private hospitals also have their own ambulances, and this would be dependent on your private hospital and health insurance package.

The emergency room will be accessible to expats as 99% of doctors and nurses will have at least a basic command of English, even in the provinces.

Dental care in the Philippines

Currently, PhilHealth does not cover dental procedures or check-ups. Make sure to check with your private healthcare provider if dental care is included in your package.

The Philippines has a good reputation for dentistry due to the competitive foreign exchange program set out by the Philippines Government, which allows Kabayans (Filipino/as) to bring their wealth of knowledge and experience from abroad and use it in their home country.

The cost of dental treatment in the Philippines is roughly four times less than in the US, for example, regarding check-ups, implants, fillings and other care.

Finding a good dentist is easier in the cities than in the provinces, where dental care can be carried out by fully unqualified practitioners.

The rule of thumb is to take good care of your teeth while abroad, schedule regular appointments, and plan ahead, especially if traveling to remote parts of the Philippines.

Useful links:

Ministry of Health


National Health Facility Registry

The Filipino doctor

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.