Money BasicsProtecting & Insurance

Why health insurance is more important than ever

  • Health and protection insurance covers medical expenses such as doctor's appointments, hospitalization, medication, lab tests, and surgery.
  • It helps to protect you against financial ruin; to prevail over lifestyle-related diseases; to shore up your existing coverage; to build savings, and to give you peace of mind.
  • You can get protected for as low as PHP 1,200.

Imagine you fall ill and are hospitalized. Other than recovery, one of your first concerns is “how am I going to pay for this?”

You’re not alone. According to the 2019 Wellness Index, about 40% of Filipinos are unsure if they can afford healthcare services. With the average cost of treatment during hospital confinement at around PHP 21,400, not every Filipino can afford long-term hospitalization.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has made Filipinos painfully aware of their vulnerability to illnesses. It’s likely that many of the infected patients do not have any form of insurance, particularly for health.

When faced with illness, the number one thing on your mind should be recovering and gaining back your strength, not worrying about mounting hospital bills. This is why investing in insurance, particularly health insurance is so important.

Health and protection insurance is one of several types of insurance products. It is also perhaps one of the most well-known kinds of personal insurance.

What is covered under health insurance?

Depending on the specific plan you get, it can cover medical expenses, like doctor’s appointments, hospitalization, medicine, laboratory tests, and surgery. It can also have pre-defined benefits covering specific illnesses. It’s popular because of its low cost of entry, starting at around PHP 1,200.

Why health insurance is important

There are numerous reasons to invest in health protection now. But here the are five most-compelling reasons that might convince you:

Protect yourself from financial ruin.

Most Filipinos are one accident or disease away from going into debt. With healthcare inflation rising to 13.7% in 2019, your ability to pay out-of-pocket may not suffice as you grow older. Many stories abound of patients surviving COVID-19 only to be greeted by sky high hospital bills, some reaching millions of pesos.

Prevail over lifestyle-related diseases.

The best way to protect yourself from health problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Prevention is better than the cure, after all. Health insurance coverage in the Philippines comes with several benefits, such as free or discounted annual check-ups and consultations that can help catch lifestyle diseases at the onset. In the event you do get diagnosed with any of the main diseases, namely cancer, stroke, or heart attack, you can receive a lump payment to cover your expenses and treatments. There are discounts for medicines, too. In case of accidents, your insurance may also cover emergency ambulance response.

Prepare for inadequate coverage.

Many choose to forego private health insurance because they already have some sort of health coverage. While you may be covered by PhilHealth or by your employer’s health coverage benefits, these are limited in scope and amount. By buying your own health insurance, you can shore up your ability to pay for more of your medical bills.

Preserve your savings.

Without health insurance, your lifelong savings may all go to just paying for a few days in the hospital, equipment use, doctor’s fees, maintenance medication, home care services, and a host of other expenses during your recovery. Some health insurance plans can also pay you back a lump sum equivalent to your total paid premiums once you reach a certain age, essentially setting up your savings.

Peace of mind.

Whether it’s the pandemic, or you suffer from any of the major illnesses, knowing that your hospitalization and medical bills are covered gives comfort not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.

If you’re looking at other insurance options, do check our infographic on the key differences between health insurance and life insurance.

How to get health insurance

Given the current restrictions due to the global pandemic, many health insurance providers have made it easier for interested applicants to apply for health insurance. Most of them allow applicants to complete the entire process online – from application, to screening, to payment.

Depending on the health insurance plan you choose, you may need to go for a medical examination or need to show proof of your medical history.

There are many different health insurance providers in the country and each one has a different health and protection plan. In-depth research is key so you can choose the right plan that aligns best with your needs and budget.

Make sure that the plan you select not only covers you but is also realistic and sustainable. It does not make sense to have a health insurance plan with wide coverage that drives you into debt just to afford the premiums. Find the middle ground. Take note too that there are comprehensive plans that do not cost an arm and a leg, even going as low as PHP 1,200 annually.

Once you’ve selected which plan you’re interested in, you can apply for a policy by speaking with an authorized representative who will then assist you with seeking the approval you need.

Once your policy is approved, all that’s left to do is pay for your health insurance premiums. There are different payment terms available. Some health insurance plans can be paid for annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly, depending on what you find most convenient. You can even set an auto debit arrangement and link it to your account so you never miss a payment. Don’t worry too much if you miss a payment. You won’t lose your coverage immediately as most insurance providers give a grace period.

Protect yourself from rainy days

Insurance is an important step towards good financial management. Now you can start saving for the rainy days while getting insurance coverage. Open a Metrobank account now to get an AXA Protect Package that comes with a one-year personal accident insurance worth PHP 100,000, hospital benefit worth PHP 5,000, and free access to AXA Rescue Line. Find out more by visiting the Metrobank website.

Be sure to also check out other insurance products that fit your needs.

This article is part of a collection of stories and practical financial tips that are published with the goal to help people learn from the experiences of others, and to pick out lessons on personal finance and sound money habits beyond the pandemic.