Sep 10, 2011

Philhealth FAQ

Short news: Last Tuesday, my husband Neil suffered a cardiac episode, so we had to rush him to the National Kidney Transplant Institute – which, by the way, is currently the cheapest good-quality government hospital in Quezon City.

(Special thanks to Neil's excellent cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Michael Jaro, who obviously knows very well what he's doing. I would recommend him to anybody. Doc, you rock!)

It was a mere case of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT, i.e., too-fast heartrate and too-low blood pressure) so we were home the very next day.

But during that incident, I learned a few things about Philhealth that I would like to share with you today.

Question: If I have been a Philhealth member for only one month, can I use it if I get hospitalized today?

No. Alas, although I had been a Philhealth member for years, I had neglected paying my dues since I started doing freelance work. I had only been able to start paying again last month, in August, so I was not able to get Philhealth benefits for my husband, who shares my Philhealth insurance.

In order for one to get Philhealth benefits, one needs to have made at least three payments in a span of six months. Since Neil got hospitalized in September, I could have gotten Philhealth benefits if, say
  • we had paid in June, July, and August; or
  • March, April, May; or even
  • March, May, August.

Question: Can I pay in advance?

Yes. In fact, just to be sure I never get into the same predicament again, I have already paid my dues until December. In January of 2012, I will probably pay for the whole year. (You can pay for a maximum of one year advance only. I've heard that Philhealth does not accept payment for more than 12 months advance.)

Retroactive payments are not allowed.

Question: Does my spouse still need to get his own Philhealth account, if he/she is already my dependent?

No – and yes. 

For immediate purposes, your spouse does not need a Philhealth account if he/she is listed as your dependent. You spouse will get Philhealth benefits under your account.

However, the question is, what happens if you die – or retire?

Once a Philhealth member retires at 60, he or she qualifies as a non-paying member – but only if he/she has already made at least 120 Philhealth payments. That's approximately 10 years of monthly dues.

If I retire and my spouse hasn't got those 120 Philhealth payments in his name, then I will have Philhealth benefits in my old age, when I need them most, but he won't.

There is also the question of "What if the Philhealth member dies?" Then the member's dependents will be left high and dry. You do not want that to happen to your loved ones, especially if the cost is only P100 per month.

UPDATE 1: As of June 2013, the required Philhealth contribution has been increased to P150 per month for individually paying members and P175 per month for employed members, total of employer and employee contribution.

UPDATE 2: I just found out that if you had been a member of Medicare, the government insurance program before Philhealth existed, your contributions in Medicare will be counted as part of the 120 Philhealth contributions required for you to qualify for free lifetime membership after retirement.

More questions?

I hope this post has answered some of your Philhealth questions. For more questions (or to verify what I have written here), you may call their customer service hotline at (02) 441-7442.

You can also ask some of your questions in this blog. Perhaps some of the readers – or maybe even I – can answer them.

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