If I Get COVID-19, How Much Do I Need to Pay?

·8-min read
COVID hospital bill in the Philippines
COVID hospital bill in the Philippines

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 cost of hospitalization more than the coronavirus itself.

The number of positive cases and deaths in the country continues to rise. As of this writing, over 795,000 confirmed cases and 13,425 deaths in the Philippines have been recorded.[1] Worldwide, there are about 131.2 million cases and over 2.9 million deaths in 219 countries and territories.[2]

Nobody wants to become part of the statistics. But the invisible enemy 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.

The Cost of COVID-19 Treatment in the Philippines

Coronavirus Cost in the Philippines - COVID-19 Treatment
Coronavirus Cost in the Philippines - COVID-19 Treatment

Photo from Department of Health Facebook page

There’s no hard data yet on the average COVID-19 treatment cost. A COVID-19 patient’s hospital bill in the Philippines will 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, the cost of COVID-19 treatment in the Philippines 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 reached PHP 1.4 million[3] 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.

How Much is the COVID Hospital Bill in the Philippines?

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.[4] 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:

  • Pharmaceutical products (tablets, syringes, etc) – PHP 305,636.06

  • Laboratory tests – PHP 178,820

  • Emergency room use (including medication and use of machines) – PHP 176,945

  • Ventilator use – PHP 123,665

  • Room and board (4-day ICU + 5-day regular isolation room) – PHP 55,700

Meanwhile, the patient paid nothing for the first COVID-19 testing and ambulance service, which was provided for free by the local government.

YouTube vlogger Eric Martinez[5] also shared a detailed breakdown of their COVID hospital bill in the Philippines when his father got sick in August 2020. He was confined for 12 days at a private hospital in Quezon City but was not intubated. Still, their total hospital bill was a whopping PHP 879,100.

According to him, the biggest expense was the Central Sterile Supply (PPE, masks, boots, gloves), which cost PHP 250,000. They also spent PHP 112,000 on Remdesivir.

Read more: Running List of COVID-19 Testing Centers in Metro Manila

What COVID Treatment Cost Will PhilHealth Shoulder?

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 COVID-19 are entitled to financial support from the government.

PhilHealth coverage for COVID-19 is mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469).[6]

PhilHealth COVID-19 Hospital Coverage

PhilHealth Covid-19 Package
PhilHealth Covid-19 Package

PhilHealth is still providing financial assistance to COVID-19 patients, though the benefits are different now. A case rate package, which took effect on April 15, 2020, provides benefit amounts depending on the severity of the patient’s case.

Current PhilHealth Case Rates for COVID-19 Patients

  • COVID-19 testing – PHP 901 – PHP 3,409

  • Community isolation – PHP 22,449

  • Mild pneumonia (elderly) – PHP 43,997

  • Moderate pneumonia – PHP 143,267

  • Severe pneumonia – PHP 333,519

  • Critical pneumonia – PHP 786,384

PhilHealth Case Rate for Community Isolation
PhilHealth Case Rate for Community Isolation

What Will Your Health Insurance Cover?

Some insurance policies don’t cover diseases declared an “epidemic” or “pandemic” by the Department of Health (DOH). However, several health insurance providers have waived this exclusion and will pay for certain benefits to COVID-19 infected policyholders.

You can definitely save on COVID-19 treatment costs in the Philippines if you have an insurance policy, whether from an HMO or life insurance company. Check with your insurance provider if testing, hospitalization, or COVID-19 treatment expenses are covered, or if you can boost your coverage to include COVID-19.

Read more: Does Health Insurance Cover COVID-19? What Filipinos Need to Know

What Will You Pay Out of Pocket?

Coronavirus Cost in the Philippines - Coronavirus Medication
Coronavirus Cost in the Philippines - Coronavirus Medication

Cost of COVID-19 Hospital Treatment in the Philippines

How much would be the hospital bill of a COVID-19 patient in the Philippines? Again, this will depend on the severity of the symptoms and on the hospital where the patient is admitted. PhilHealth’s COVID-19 hospital coverage has a cap, too. After deducting PhilHealth benefits from the total hospital bill, the patient will still need to settle the balance.

If your personal insurance policy covers COVID-19 treatment, then you’ll be shelling out a lower amount. Or you may not have to pay anything at all if your insurance coverage is enough to pay for the balance.

Temporary Tent Accommodations

With the surge of COVID-19 cases in NCR and nearby provinces, hospitals are over capacity. As a result, hospitals have set up temporary tent accommodations or waiting areas right in their emergency rooms for patients waiting for an available bed.

Patients are already being billed as much as PHP 1,000 per hour to stay at these temporary accommodations. However, under existing rules, emergency room (ER) services are not shouldered by PhilHealth.[7]

COVID-19 Cost for Patients Under Home Care

The only instance you’ll pay for the full COVID-19 cost is when you’re under self-administered COVID-19 treatment at home.

According to the DOH guidelines on hospital admission,[8] COVID-19 patients without symptoms and those with mild symptoms can go home to 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.).

PhilHealth and private insurance companies also don’t cover the medical expenses of COVID-19 patients who undergo home quarantine. In such cases, they’ll have to shoulder the full cost of COVID-19 treatment.

Read more: Swab Test and Rapid Test Price: COVID-19 Testing Guide

COVID-19 Home Care Programs

If you wish to quarantine at home, The Medical City has a COVID-19 home care program for people who are:

  • COVID-19 positive or suspected to be COVID-19 positive

  • experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms

  • undergoing home quarantine or self-isolation

  • waiting for their swab test results

The home care program aims to closely monitor their health conditions and guide them to recovery at home under the supervision of a physician. It includes home infection control, daily monitoring, and diagnostic services.

Home Care Program A (PHP 13,000)

This is a 3-day program recommended for people who went to any emergency department or facility and were advised to self-isolate while waiting for their COVID-19 test results.

Home Care Program B (PHP 65,000)

This a 10-day program for COVID-19 positive patients who require close monitoring while they complete their mandatory quarantine period. Aside from the COVID Laboratory Panel, an accredited physician will also make an onsite visit to the patient.

Home Care Program C (PHP 33,900)

This 3-day program is for those who need an RT-PCR test but are unable to go to the hospital. It includes the COVID Laboratory Panel and RT-PCR Test.

You can avail of The Medical City’s COVID-19 Remote Care Program[9] by contacting its hospitals in South Luzon, Clark, and Pangasinan.

Related: Online Drugstores in the Philippines for Medicine Delivery and Pickup

Final Thoughts

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 at least 14 days or until they fully recover.

Whether or not your insurance company or PhilHealth will provide COVID-19 hospital coverage, you don’t want to be in that dreaded situation. Living under the community quarantine is stressful as it is. What more if you get COVID-19?

You’ll not only add financial burden to your family if your symptoms are severe but also cause them stress and anxiety. There’s also the risk of spreading the virus to your community if you’re asymptomatic and often leave your home.

Now that you know how expensive the COVID hospital bill in the Philippines can get, take all the necessary precautions and just stay at home. You and your loved ones can survive this pandemic. Never go out without your face masks and face shields on, wash your hands properly, and practice social distancing all the time.

Related article: Unemployment Benefits and Other COVID-19 Government Assistance Schemes

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