Based on the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO), patients who are positive with mild symptoms of the new coronavirus disease take an average of two weeks to recover. Meanwhile, recovery of those confined with severe symptoms and complications can take three to six weeks. These factors cause the expenses for COVID-19 treatment to rise.
For each period, how much will the hospital charge to your bill? Up until April 14, 2020, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shouldered the full COVID-19 hospitalization cost for every member and their dependent/s.
Beyond this date, PhilHealth released a new package rate limited only to persons under investigation (PUIs) showing strong symptoms, and patients with severe conditions.
Modified PhilHealth benefits package for COVID-19 treatment
As of April 17, 2020, these are the new coverage costs for the treatment of the coronavirus disease:
- Mild Pneumonia (elderly people): ₱43,997
- Moderate Pneumonia: ₱143,267
- Severe Pneumonia: ₱333,519
- Critical Pneumonia: ₱786,384
Experts have yet to determine the true nature of the coronavirus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2. As of this writing, no vaccine has yet been produced. All we know is that the virus poses different levels of threat to the human body, and only thing’s for sure: Those who have been hospitalized for severe symptoms of COVID-19 treatment are faced with costly medical bills.
Actual hospital charges for COVID-19 treatment
Here are five cases of patients—names withheld but identifiable via news outlets—whose actual hospital bills reveal how much the cost of COVID-19 hospitalization in the Philippines is:
1. Patient A
He was confined and treated at a Makati hospital for eight days.
Total billed amount: ₱93,805
His insurance policy provider footed ₱89,000 off his bill.
On top of that, he received ₱4,000 in PhilHealth benefits. The cost of his COVID-19 hospitalization was ₱170.
Source: ABS-CBN News
2. Patient B
This patient was brought to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for four days and transferred to regular isolation room for five days.
Billed amount for the room and board: ₱55,700
The total bill for the use of rooms include emergency rooms cost for four days, which was ₱25,200; and the isolation room cost for five days at₱30,500.
3. Patient C
This patient is considered a normal case. He has no underlying condition and has been confined for 18 days.
Final amount he owed: ₱1,112,327.59
The breakdown is as follows:
- Cost of emergency room for eight days: ₱176,945
- Use of ventilator: ₱123,665
- Laboratory tests: ₱178,820
- Pharmaceutical products: ₱305,636.06
These charges amount to ₱1,167,327.54, his initial billed amount. However, third-party insurance saved him₱54,999.95 from the total bill.
4. Patient D
This patient, aged 60, is a retired OFW confined at Asian Hospital and Medical Center.
Billed amount for seven days: ₱1.44 million
As of this writing, the bill is not yet final.
Source: Manila Bulletin
5. Patient E
The patient is an elderly and confined in critical condition for 16 days.
Total billed amount: ₱3.8 million
The shocking accumulation of the hospital bill started with the initial charges for the first day of his confinement: ₱177,000. It also includes: doctor’s fees (over ₱200,000); various lab test and pulmonary services (₱400,000); and cost of medicines (₱1.4 million).
Source: GMA News
How to get financially prepared
There’s no way to estimate how much the average cost of COVID-19 treatment is because of a wide range of variables: hospital rates, billing inclusion, length of confinement, and severity of cases, among others.
However, hearing news about patients having to pay close to ₱4 million can be a serious cause for worry. The last thing you want to deal with after recovering from a critical illness is a pile of debt from your hospitalization cost.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for the country to have a stronger national healthcare system. It’s also a wakeup call for the people on the importance of having sound financial planning, including the need for health insurance.
Out-of-pocket payments is next to impossible for the majority of Filipinos in the poverty line, and we can’t rely on PhilHealth and insurance providers to shoulder everything for good.
But there is one way to prepare for this disease, and that is to stay home while the quarantine is in place, and help flatten the curve.