“What is the best health insurance company in the Philippines?” is one question that won’t get you a straight answer (unless you’re talking to a representative from one such company that’s trying to get your account, of course).
The truth is, getting a health insurance plan that matches your needs and budget is much like shopping for a pair of jeans: this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, and something that works great for your boss or your mom may not necessarily be the best thing for you.
And before you even consider throwing in the towel and not availing of any sort of health insurance at all, think about how unpredictable life can get. Unless you are adequately covered, all it takes to bury you in debt and imperil your financial security (and that of your family’s) is one serious medical emergency in the family.
That said, how do you go about finding the right health plan?
1. Assess your medical needs and any existing health insurance plans.
All health maintenance organizations or HMO’s typically offer comprehensive coverage, but it’s always best to customize your package according to your unique needs. For instance, do you need special protection for any pre-existing conditions (e.g., asthma, heart arrythmia, etc.)? Do you plan to have children over the next few years? And if so, would you want your health plan to cover them as well?
The following are just some of the add-ons that could make an HMO stand out from the rest:
Coverage for maternity and dental benefits;
Coverage for pre-existing conditions;
Coverage for diagnostic medical tests;
Reimbursement for prescription medications;
Coverage for special procedures;
Reimbursement for medical services availed from outside the HMO network;
PhilHealth Benefits Integration;
Life and accidental death and dismemberment benefits;
Extensions of benefits for family members
If you are currently employed and have existing medical coverage, find out what sort of benefits it entails. If you feel that it’s inadequate, you can ask your HR department to help you customize it (though be informed that this could result in additional costs).
Alternatively, you can also seek out an alternate HMO package that complements your existing one with the company.
2. Make a list of potential health insurance providers in your area.
If you haven’t got a clue, you can check with your local diagnostic centers about the HMO’s they recognize.
Better yet, check with your preferred hospital for their list of accredited HMO providers. No matter how attractive a health insurance package is, it won’t be of any use if it’s not recognized by your hospital.
3. Work out your budget.
It goes without saying that you can’t avail of a healthcare plan if you haven’t got a steady income. Sit down with your calculator, monthly bills, and daily receipts to figure out how much you can afford to put aside for your HMO.
A fully-loaded health plan is always great, but it might not always be practical. Focus on your must-haves, as determined in Step 1, first. If you’ve still got a bit of money left after they’ve all been sufficiently addressed, then you can look into additional coverage options.
You should also review the terms of your life insurance to eliminate any redundancies. If such already provides you with accidental death and dismemberment protection, for instance, you can strike that out from your HMO to lower the cost.
4. Canvas for prices.
Get in touch with all the HMO companies from the list you compiled in Step 2. Provide their agents with your health insurance requirements as well as your budget. The more companies you’re in talks with, the more options you have and usually, the more leverage you’ve got.
5. Narrow down your choices and check for feedback.
Pick out around 2-3 companies that you liked best, and ask around for feedback (i.e., “outsourcing” on Facebook).
Look into each company’s reputation as well, and listen carefully to people who’ve personally experienced their brand of service to come up with the best decision.
As a final note, do remember that a healthy lifestyle is still the best kind of health insurance out there. Used wisely, a strong, stable body and mind can not only provide well for your needs and wants, but for those of your family’s too, and isn’t that always the ultimate goal?