Difficulties of accessing care in the Philippines

Public health care issues

The healthcare system in the Philippines is a mixed public-private system. Although the public healthcare system in the Philippines is considered to be decent, more and more skilled doctors are turning away from it in favour of private practice or working overseas. The result is a limited public healthcare system, not only in terms of quality, but in accessibility too.

Difficulties of accessing care in the Philippines

Medical brain drain

Many Philippine doctors are highly qualified and speak English, having gone abroad and received a Western education. While many initially return to the Philippines to practice, the wages offered by the public healthcare system are small in comparison to that available in the private system and overseas. Many doctors abandon the public sector to look for these higher paid jobs, resulting in the Philippine public health system to begin to collapse. 

With public hospitals understaffed, doctors are overworked, with the number of patients reaching breaking point. Not only do waiting times increase, but the quality of care is diminished due to stress and a need to see as many patients as possible.

Even in cases of emergency, patients can wait for several hours before being attended to.

Access to public health services

Limited access on the islands

Over 1,000 hospitals have closed over the past decade due to the shortage of doctors, most of them in rural parts of the country. So while the Philippines’ 7,000 islands might make the country a beach paradise, living on one of the sparsely populated islands means your access to public healthcare is severely restricted.

Emergency access to medical specialists

The shortfall of doctors in the public sector has also caused problems for certain patients who are looking to find a specialist when they are facing a medical emergency. This means that even though basic medical care is available throughout the country, some hospitals only provide limited treatments, making it hard for everyone to access them. This is mostly a problem in rural areas, but patients living in the bigger cities might also face a long wait before being able to see a medical specialist they need.

Private healthcare  

With doctors seeking higher wages and the resulting decline in the public healthcare system, private healthcare companies have taken advantage of both to grow extensively in the island nation. The result is better access to facilities and a wider range of treatment for both in the urban and rural regions. We recommend that expats have access to private healthcare; Cigna Global’s international health insurance  provides access to a range of hospitals and doctors across the Philippines.

Medical brain drain

Many Philippine doctors are highly qualified and speak English, having gone abroad and received a Western education. While many initially return to the Philippines to practice, the wages offered by the public healthcare system are small in comparison to that available in the private system and overseas. Many doctors abandon the public sector to look for these higher paid jobs, resulting in the Philippine public health system to begin to collapse. 

With public hospitals understaffed, doctors are overworked, with the number of patients reaching breaking point. Not only do waiting times increase, but the quality of care is diminished due to stress and a need to see as many patients as possible.

Even in cases of emergency, patients can wait for several hours before being attended to.

Access to public health services

Limited access on the islands

Over 1,000 hospitals have closed over the past decade due to the shortage of doctors, most of them in rural parts of the country. So while the Philippines’ 7,000 islands might make the country a beach paradise, living on one of the sparsely populated islands means your access to public healthcare is severely restricted.

Emergency access to medical specialists

The shortfall of doctors in the public sector has also caused problems for certain patients who are looking to find a specialist when they are facing a medical emergency. This means that even though basic medical care is available throughout the country, some hospitals only provide limited treatments, making it hard for everyone to access them. This is mostly a problem in rural areas, but patients living in the bigger cities might also face a long wait before being able to see a medical specialist they need.

Private healthcare  

With doctors seeking higher wages and the resulting decline in the public healthcare system, private healthcare companies have taken advantage of both to grow extensively in the island nation. The result is better access to facilities and a wider range of treatment for both in the urban and rural regions. We recommend that expats have access to private healthcare; Cigna Global’s international health insurance  provides access to a range of hospitals and doctors across the Philippines.

Further reading

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