The Philippines – Offering a Healthier Option
Healthcare reform continues to be fiercely debated in the United States. The outcome of the 57th U.S. Presidential election on November 6th could well be decided on this key political issue. Politicians and the private sector recognize that the challenges of reform involve the individuals’ right to healthcare, costs, quality of treatment and the choices of healthcare made available to citizens.
While the U.S. is the only industrialized nation which does not ensure its citizens have some form of public or private health insurance, more money is spent on healthcare per person in the U.S. than any other first world country.
The country’s high medical care costs have long been a concern. In 2007, sixty two percent of people filing for bankruptcy claimed high medical expenses had led to their spiraling financial woes. In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that over sixteen percent of the population was uninsured and the impact of the global financial crisis continued to create financial problems throughout the U.S. population.
As a result of the growing healthcare crisis in the U.S., an increasing number of uninsured and under-insured Americans are travelling overseas for medical treatment. Patients can save up to eighty percent on their bills by seeking treatment outside the U.S. and today several countries are actively promoting themselves as centers of medical excellence.
Foreigners are continuing to seek inexpensive yet high quality care combined with a period of recuperation in a relaxed holiday environment. In South East Asia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia continue to build on their reputations as medical tourism destinations. Today, the Philippines is entering the market as an affordable and attractive medical tourism destination offering quality care, medical expertise and a suitable holiday environment to help patients recover.
With a significant number of health professionals from the Philippines already working in the U.S., Filipino doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have gained a reputation in North America for offering quality healthcare related services. The Philippines is one of a few countries which sends qualified physicians and dentists to the U.S. – a testament to the high standards of medical education in the Philippines. Medical exchanges and technology transfers with the U.S. are also creating interest in the Philippines’ medical sector.
Throughout Filipino culture, there is an inherent caring and compassionate attitude. These characteristics ensure Filipino healthcare professionals are understanding towards patients and offer a caring disposition creating a ‘good bedside manner’.
According to a report commissioned by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ), “The deep respect towards the elderly, anchored in the Philippines society, the high level of service orientation and the good English-speaking skills are crucial comparative advantages over their South East Asian competitors in medical tourism. The rich natural resources and wide variety of tourist destinations may additionally become a decisive factor for the choice of the international consumers.”
The Philippines health care industry also boasts state of the art technology such as imaging and surgical equipment. Fast access to care, same day or next day surgeries and English speaking U.S. certified physicians are also strengthening the industry.
St. Luke’s Medical Center and The Medical City are two facilities in Metro Manila which offer a five-star hotel-like ambiance. Both are accredited by the same agency charged with accrediting U.S. hospitals; the Joint Commission International and several other ISO certified establishments can be found in Metro Manila.
Surgeries sought by Americans currently include heart procedures, transplants, knee and hip replacements and resurfacing, orthopedic procedures, spinal surgeries, dental work and cosmetic surgery. All these procedures, priced at one-third to one-tenth of what a private patient would pay for in the U.S., are readily available in the Philippines.
With foreign patient arrivals to the Philippines on the increase, the government now offers long term visas for tourists wishing to combine their medical procedure with a relaxing holiday.
Destinations in the Philippines such as Cebu, Palawan and Boracay offer perfect environments in which to relax, recuperate and enjoy the beauty of the country. The tropical climate and beautiful beaches make for a truly memorable holiday experience. Philippine Medical Tourism, Inc., a local medical tourism company, provides convenient packaged services designed for foreign patients seeking medical and wellness programs in the Philippines. Spas and wellness centers also offer acupuncture, aromatherapy, nutritional consultation, facials and body scrubs, herbal healing, holistic lifestyle, homeopathy, massage, mud therapy, thermal springs and yoga.
The warmth and friendliness found throughout Filipino culture look set to increase the country’s attractiveness as a medical tourism destination. Daily flights from the U.S. to the Philippines make travelling to the country easy and with the growth of the Philippines’ knowledge based medical sector, patients are increasingly looking towards the Philippines for their combined medical and tourism needs.