Among the benefits of working a corporate job is the health insurance often paid by your employer. Even without this inclusion, people who earn a stable income are still able to plan a health insurance budget with fixed premiums. The same is not valid for those who make by commission – graphic artists, content writers, web developers, product resellers, even small-scale entrepreneurs. There’s no questioning the need for affordable health care, especially as you grow older. Many Filipinos working freelance jobs find it hard enough to live off an unstable and unreliable paycheck. So how else can you pay a fixed health insurance premium?
What are the best health insurance options?
Health maintenance organizations (HMO) cater specifically to health insurance. HMO plans are not integrated into general life insurance like Suntrust, AXA, or Manulife. They’re stand-alone middlemen between patients and health care providers. You may know some of the most famous HMOs, like Medicard, Maxicare, and Intellicare. HMO’s are also different from the government-funded PhilHealth, but it’s helpful to have both.
Why pick HMOs?
The good thing about HMO’s is the affordable costs for as low as 500 pesos for a year. Talk about affordable health care! Plans and coverage are customizable to your needs. They’re renewable yearly if you want to change it up. You can avail these benefits in any of the continually increasing numbers of HMO-affiliated clinics and hospitals.
What to consider when choosing an HMO plan?
1. One-time premium - This is the amount you pay for membership in an HMO program every year. A higher premium usually means more extensive benefits, but you can find a great deal without spending your entire budget.
2. Coverage and other benefits - You can avail a plan that’s specific to preventive health care, consultations, emergency care, or all of it!
3. Your healthcare needs – If you’re relatively healthy, then you can settle for an emergency plan with preventive health care. If you regularly visit your physician, then make a plan for unlimited consultations. Planning is to help you find the best bang for your buck.
4. The convenience of availing the benefits – Are there HMO-affiliated clinics, doctors, and hospitals near you? If not, don’t bother getting that plan. Find a different HMO where you can avail benefits a few minutes from your home. HMO’s are usually more clustered in huge cities like Cebu and Metro Manila, so note that, too.
Top HMO plans to consider:
Whether it’s a one-time prepaid health card or a comprehensive annual plan, here are the best HMO plans for a freelancer’s budget and needs!
Medicard Health Check
1. Unlimited consultations with MediCard primary care physicians, general practitioners, internists, family doctors, pediatricians, and ob-gynecologists (except maternity-related)
2. ₱350 for consultations with MediCard specialists, ENT doctors, ophthalmologists, and rehab medicine physicians
3. Annual physical examination (APE), physical exam, complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, fecalysis, and chest X-ray
4. 20% discount on all laboratory and diagnostics procedures
This is the cheapest option on our list. All benefits can be availed on weekdays by appointment at the MediCard free-standing clinic where the card was purchased. There’s no age limitation nor pre-acceptance medical exam for the membership.
Cost: starts at ₱699
1. Up to ₱15,000 one-time coverage on emergency conditions and treatments
2. 20% discount on selected Metro Dental services
3. 15% discount on selected MyHealth services
4. Up to ₱50,000.00 Group Life with Accidental Death, Dismemberment and Disablement (ADD&D) coverage
If you’re looking for cheap emergency health care, then this is a fantastic deal! Patients from 15 days to 65 years old can avail the benefits in over 1000 Maxicare-affiliated establishments. The Titanium variant for ₱699 excludes coverage in major hospitals in Metro Manila – Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center - Bonifacio Global City, St. Luke’s Medical Center - Quezon City, The Medical City. The ₱899 Platinum variant allows covered treatments in the mentioned hospitals.
PhilCare ERVantage Plus for Adults
Cost: starts at ₱1,050
Plan - PLUS 40, PLUS 60, PLUS 80
1. Up to ₱40,000 one-time coverage from accidents (except stroke)
2. Wardroom and board
3. Up to ₱60,000 one-time coverage from accidents (except stroke)
4. Semi-private room and board
5. Up to ₱60,000 one-time coverage from accidents (except stroke)
6. Regular private room and board
Maybe Maxicare EReady’s coverage is not enough for you? If you’re willing to pay a little bit more for additional monetary and hospitalization benefits, then this is what you’re looking for. The plans are available for anyone from 18-64 years old. The benefits, including a maximum of ₱50,000 AD&D coverage, can be availed in any PhilCare-accredited establishment, excluding major Metro Manila hospitals.
1. Up to ₱20,000 coverage on emergency trauma care including cases within 6 hours from the time of the incident; burns; animal bites and accidental chemical poisoning
R Up to ₱5,000 coverage on emergency diagnostic procedures and lab tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI
R unlimited free consultations with primary care physicians and some specialists (general surgeon, obstetrician-gynecologist, pediatrician, family medicine, general practitioner and general internist)
R ₱350 for consultations with other specialists
R 30% discounts on procedures done at MediCard free-standing clinics (all laboratory and diagnostic tests, surgeries, and dental procedures)
R Free dental consultations including a one-time prophylaxis
This one’s an emergency card that’s leaning more to a comprehensive plan. The amazing thing about this plan is that you can avail of the benefits more than once as long as the limit has not been exhausted yet. Similar to the Medicard Health Check, no age limit or medical exam is required before the membership.
Pacific Cross Select
Cost: starts at ₱4,482
1. Up to ₱500,000 hospital expenses (for Ward membership)
2. Additional corresponding monetary coverage on emergency, hospitalization, critical care, and surgical benefits
3. Annual physical exam
4. Out-patient benefits
5. Dental benefits
This is the best deal for those looking for comprehensive health care. Some freelancers have a demand for traveling, sometimes overseas. Pacific Cross covers medical expenses incurred abroad! The premiums, however, increase with age. This plan is ideal for freelancers looking for more extensive health insurance coverage and is willing to pay the extra costs.
Additional tips to maximize your health care savings
1. Use your PhilHealth membership alongside HMO plans. The hospital would deduct your PhilHealth benefits to your bills before the HMO! More savings are always optimal.
2. Avoid emergency room consultations. This is helpful for discounted consultation benefits. Emergency rooms are open 24/7 and are better used for urgent cases. Thus, ER consultations are usually more expensive than those during clinic hours. If you’re not coming in for a trauma case, waiting a few hours for a clinic consultation shouldn’t be hard.
3. Maximize consultations and physical and dental exams, especially one-time benefits. Don’t settle for a ward room when your HMO provided a private one! You paid for all of these benefits, and you should be able to get them.
4. Go only to HMO-affiliated health care providers. This is why you should pick an HMO with nearby affiliated clinics. Prevent unwanted costs by making sure a related establishment is nearby to cater to your needs.