Medical Tourism to The Philippines

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Foreign nationals choose the Philippines as their medical tourism destination for low cost aesthetic and dental procedures. They expect to enjoy the care and compassion that they are familiar with in US, Australian or Middle Eastern hospitals, which are staffed with Western-trained Filipino nurses and physicians.
Thousands of Filipino expats visit the Philippines for medical care as well, usually combining the medical procedure with their family visit.

Healthcare System in the Philippines

Since 2006, a bill was passed in the Philippine Congress creating the Medical Tourism Bureau and prompted the nation to start promoting health tourism. The first few years proved successful catapulting the Philippines among the list of choice destinations in the industry. Health travelers to the country find this to be the case, as they are assisted by highly competent, English-speaking and Western-trained medical staff in over 2,000 hospitals in the country.

Philippine health professionals are products of more than 313 health education institutions, and 60% to 80% of whom would eventually work or train abroad and get international medical diplomas. In fact, the Filipinos constitute the second largest group of foreign students that graduated in the medical field from US institutions. Several of these professionals who return home to practice their profession would bring back the latest in technologies, techniques, and expertise and build their own world-class medical practice.

In the Philippines, dentistry students need to undergo 4 years preparatory and 2 years of practical dentistry. After passing the dentistry board, they would then need another one or two year's specialization study. For physicians, a student would undergo 4 to 5 years pre-med study, then another 4 years of practical medicine and 1 year internship before they can take the medical board exams administered by the Philippines Board of Medicine, which is a special branch of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

After passing, the physician can now be called a General Practitioner, but it would take him several years of medical graduate study if he wants to pursue medical specialization 4 years for most specialized fields and up to 8 years for surgical related specializations like neurosurgery, cosmetic surgeries, etc. The Philippine Medical Association supervises and monitors the practice of medical doctors of all fields, although there are also separate medical associations that are grouped according to the area of specialization.

Hospitals in the Philippines undergo periodic accreditation from the Philippines Department of Health. Some of these medical institutions have international accreditation from the Joint Commissions International (JCI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Privately-owned hospitals located in the National Capital Region or Metro Manila offer the best in medical facilities and luxurious five-star accommodation that are equal to Western hospitals and cater to medical tourists.

However, there are clear differences between the private or corporate health facilities as compared to the public health system, which usually do not offer the same quality that patients receive from private institutions. For medical tourists, it is advisable to avail themselves of the medical tourism packages offered by private hospitals and health facilities if they want to get the best healthcare services available.

Top Hospitals for Medical Tourism in the Philippines

  • Philippine Heart Center - Quezon City
    Established in 1975, the Philippine Heart Center is regarded as one of the most active cardiac care treatment and surgery center in the Asia-Pacific region. Located in a 2.7 hectare facility with two hospitals and a medical arts building, the institution offers various cardiac, cardio-pulmonary and cardiovascular procedures for both local and international patients.
  • Asian Hospital and Medical Center - Muntinlupa City
    Established only in 2002, the Asian Hospital is the first major private health facility in the south of Metro Manila. Success came quickly, as in 2005 it received an award as the Most Outstanding Modern Hospital. It offers world-class treatments and facilities catering to both local and international patients seeking various health services including Cardiology, Cosmetic Surgery, Dermatology, Executive Health Screening, Oncology, General Surgery and Urology among others.
  • St. Luke's Medical Center - Quezon City / Fort Bonifacio Global City
    The second JCI-accredited health facility in the Philippines, St. Luke's Medical Center is the premiere health center in the Philippines that offers 21st century medical facilities and services using the most advanced technologies. Established in 1903, the hospital has 9 institutes, 13 departments and a total of 19 health centers offering various medical treatments and procedures. These cater for both local and international clientele.
  • Manila Doctors Hospital - Ermita, Manila
    Established in 1956, this ISO-certified health facility is a private tertiary hospital that offers various health and medical services catering to local and international patients. Among the services offered are Industrial Medicine, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, Rehabilitation Medicine, Special Diagnostics, Laboratory Medicine and other Clinical services.
  • Browse our list of hospitals in Philippines >>.

Common Treatments Done by Medical Tourists in the Philippines

Foreign medical tourists to the Philippines usually go for aesthetic and un-complicated procedures, whilst Filipino expats return home for all types of medical procedures.
The following procedures are more common among non Filipino medical tourists:

Cost of Medical Treatments in the Philippines

The following are cost comparisons between medical procedures in the Philippines and equivalent procedures in the United States: [Sources: 1]
Medical Procedures
Procedure US Hospitals Philippines Average Savings
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery $70,000 - $133,000 $11,500 - $17,500 83% - 86%
Heart-valve Replacement $75,000 - $140,000 $14,000 - $21,000 81% - 85%
Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass $35,000 - $52,000 $2,000 - $3,500 92% - 94%
Hip Replacement $33,000 - $57,000 $5,000 - $7,600 84% - 86%
Knee Replacement $30,000 - $53,000 $5,200 - $7,700 82% - 85%
Prostate surgery (TURP procedure) $10,000 - $16,000 $1,500 - $2,700 83% - 85%
Liver Transplant $290,000 - $310,000 $120,000 - $150,000 51% - 58%
Kidney Transplant $200,000 - $250,000 $23,000 - $25,000 88% - 90%
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Procedure US Hospitals Philippines Average Savings
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) $6,000 - $10,000 $3,000 - $4,000 50% - 60%
Face Lift (rhytidectomy) $10,500 -16,000 $3,500 - $4,500 66% - 71%
Breast Augmentation (Mammoplasty) $7,500 - $8,500 $3,000 - $3,500 58% - 60%
Breast Reduction $8,000 - $10,000 $3,000 - $3,200 62% - 68%
Complete Liposuction (lipoplasty) $13,000 - $14,000 $3,000 - $4,000 71% - 76%
Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty) $5,500 - $6,500 $2,000 - $2,500 61% - 63%
Eye / Ophthalmology
Procedure US Hospitals Philippines Average Savings
Cataract surgery $1,500 - $2,500 $800 - $900 46% - 64%
General and Cosmetic Dentistry
Procedure US Hospitals Philippines Average Savings
Dental Implant $3,500 - $5,500 $500 - $600 85% - 89%

Malpractice and Liability Laws in the Philippines

In the Philippines, there are adequate provisions in the Philippine Revised Penal Code for medical malpractice that would protect patients against medical negligence and incompetence from erring or criminal physicians. On top of this, the Republic Act #9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 has also been passed by Congress to guarantee the delivery of basic health services through adequate and competent nursing personnel in the country.

Significant awards have been awarded to victims of confirmed medical malpractice cases as well as fines meted out by the Department of Health on erring physicians. However, according to the Philippine Medical Association in a Medical Malpractice Workshop conducted in 2005, such medical malpractice incidence account only for a mere 0.00003% of the total number of affected patients.

The Philippine Congress and the Senate continue to file bills related to medical malpractice and healthcare liability, although the medical sector continue to oppose passing of these resolutions, stating that these are detrimental to the healthcare industry in the country.

Pros

  • Prices

    Prices of medical procedures are very cost-effective.
  • Well trained medical staff

    Medical staff are trained to international standards, and many doctors are trained in Western countries.
  • Language

    English is widely spoken among the medical staff, and by the general public.
  • Several top quality hospitals

    Hospitals catering to health tourism have state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Low cost accomodations

    5-star hotel room accommodation are available at very affordable prices
  • A vacation destination

    There are several choice vacation destinations in the Philippines that are perfect for fast and relaxing recovery after a medical procedure

Cons

  • General quality of healthcare not as high as other destinations

    There are clear differences in the levels of quality and offered healthcare services between private health institutions and public health providers. Good medical tourism packages are offered mostly in private institutions and are not available in public hospitals or clinics.
  • Long flights

    Flight times from the US, Canada and Europe are long and may not be conducive for patients with certain medical conditions

Traveling to the Philippines

All major airline carriers travel to the Philippines directly from major cities in the USA, Canada, the Middle East, Europe and the rest of Asia.
Average estimated travel time in hours
From/To Philippines
New York 18
Los Angeles 15
Miami 19
Montreal 17
Quebec 16
Toronto 17
Sydney 8
Riyadh 10
Dubai 9
Oman 9
Kuwait 10
Singapore 3

Entry and Exit Requirements to the Philippines

The following are the visa requirements for entry or stay in the Philippines:
  • Foreign nationals from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Asian countries, and other countries specified in a list released by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs can enter the country without a visa for a period not exceeding 21 days provided they have a 6-month valid passport and a return ticket. Visitors who wish to stay longer are required to have a visa.
  • Foreign nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and other countries not in the list are required to have a visa even if the stay is less than 7 days.
  • Holders of Brazilian and Israeli passports can enter without a visa and stay for a period not exceeding 59 days.
  • Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, British National Overseas, Macao-issue Portuguese passports, and Macao Special Administrative Region passports can enter and stay without a visa for a period not exceeding seven days.

Statistics of Medical Tourism in the Philippines

There were approximately 250,000 non-resident patients (foreign nationals and Filipino expats) who traveled to the Philippines for various medical services in 2006. And it has been calculated that at least 100,000 foreign patients visit the country each year for medical care. This has grown extensively each year and in the first quarter of 2009, approximately 200,000 medical tourists have been documented as visiting the Philippines for medical care, with figures expected to reach 600,000 by the end of the year.

The vast Filipino Diaspora who settled overseas return to the Philippines not only for family visits or vacations but also to undergo minor medical, dental and other health procedures not covered by their medical insurance in their countries of origin. In 2007 alone 180,000 Filipino expatriates visited the country for such purposes and this is expected to increase in the coming years.
Hospitals in Philippines