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  • Dahil Bawal Magkasakit: 7 Reasons A Prepaid Health Card Might Be For Your Family

    You can get affordable health insurance for your family with prepaid health cards.
    by Aneth Ng-Lim .
Dahil Bawal Magkasakit: 7 Reasons A Prepaid Health Card Might Be For Your Family
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Making Christmas wishes come true for their kids to keep many parents very busy during the holiday season. So busy, they rarely have time to sit down and think about what they want for themselves.

    How about taking a five-minute break and consider what you would ask Santa if he is listening? Go wild, and don’t worry about budgets or what’s practical. As they say, ‘libre mangarap’ so indulge your fantasies.

    Most moms we asked wanted a trip with friends or new clothes and bags. Dads hoped for new cars or new phones. There were also outliers: One wanted a Jollibee birthday party; another dreamed of free Grab rides for a year, and then there’s Jessica who said she will pray for health insurance.

    While Jessica’s request is not as exciting as a vacation or a new car, it’s one that most parents who joined our informal poll agreed would be a welcome treat in their Christmas stocking. In the case of Jessica, she realized how badly she needed health care when she had an accident and had no health insurance. Her friends raised funds to help her cover the cost of her medical operation, and she had to take out a loan too. No surprise there that it’s at the top of her holiday wish list.

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    ‘Bawal magkasakit’

    Popularized by a TV commercial, ‘bawal magkasakit’ is often quoted by adults to one another, to mean they cannot afford to get sick. When Dad or Mom has to skip work due to illness, not only do they worry about missed pay, the cost of the doctor’s visit and medicines and other health expenses also weigh on their mind.

    If your employer offers health insurance, that can help when a family member falls ill. Depending on your health plan, you could enjoy free consultations with doctors, medical tests, and even subsidies when confined in a hospital. But not all employers extend health insurance. Then there is the growing number of freelancers, self-employed, and unemployed adults in the country — and all of them are vulnerable to the rising health care costs.

    If you’re looking for peace of mind, a convenient option is to have HMO coverage or a plan covered by a health maintenance organization. Sadly, these do not come cheap. A family of four will have to cough up between P60,000 to P100,000 every year for a basic health care package (inpatient and outpatient services). The more health services you need, say you want to qualify for a private room in case of hospital stay, the more you will pay. If this is out of your budget range for now, a prepaid health card might be a welcome alternative.

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    Health cards now come in prepaid too

    Many of the established HMOs and insurance companies now offer prepaid health cards. They are easy on the pocket with the cheapest one starting at P699. You can also shop for them online and pay online as well, saving you the trip and traffic. No two health cards are alike, so make sure to read the fine print to get the coverage you need at the best price. You’ll find that with emergency health cards, the devil is in the details, so buyer beware.

    To get you started, consider the seven reasons below why you and your family need prepaid healthcare.

    #1 Free medical consultations

    If you find yourself and family members going to see, doctors often consider a prepaid card focused on consultation services. Take Medicard as an example. For P1,100, it can provide a one-year coverage with unlimited free consultations with primary care physicians and some specialists like pediatricians, medical internists, and obstetricians in Medicard’s clinics nationwide.

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    #2 Round-the-clock telemedicine access.

    You can do nearly everything online these days, so why not medical consultations too? With prepaid health care, you can sign up for unlimited access to a telemedicine portal. If you’re not feeling well, you can save yourself the hassle of going to the doctor’s clinic and speak to doctors on call over the phone. You can even arrange for your prescription to be delivered to you. If your baby develops a fever at night, you can immediately request a consultation by sending an SMS as doctors are available 24/7.

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    #3 Worry-free hospital stay when you need it.

    For P1,999, you can buy a prepaid card good for one year for one-time hospital confinement that covers eight illnesses: Dengue, malaria, cholera, typhoid and paratyphoid, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, leptospirosis, and chikungunya. With this card from Maxicare, you will get coverage up to P25,000 for various medical expenses, including hospital stay.

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    #4 You’ll be emergency ready.

    You can also choose to get a prepaid card that is useful for emergencies. At P699, Maxicare’s EReady will give you up to P15,000 coverage for illnesses or injuries that arises from medical-related emergency conditions. Insular Health Care will charge you P700 for P50,000 worth of coverage for services, including outpatient emergency care, laboratory and diagnostic procedures, and medicines as required.

    #5 Or make that all-in emergency care.

    Medical emergencies sometimes lead to hospital confinement, and for a little extra, you can be prepared for this too. With Insular Health Care, buy the ER Care All-in for P1,350 and get up to P80,000 coverage that will include outpatient and inpatient emergency care. If you want higher coverage, say P100,000, add P400 more.

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    #6 Access to the Big Six.

    Whether it’s Medicard, or Maxicare, or Insular Health Care, or any other HMO or insurance companies, pay attention to the size of their networks — meaning where can you go for treatment. Some have 600 partners to as many as 1000 hospitals nationwide. But take note if they cover the big six, and most will say no, or require you to pay extra.

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    So who are the big six? That’s Asian Hospital, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Taguig, and The Medical City. If you live in Metro Manila, chances are these are the hospitals closest to you, or your doctors hold clinics here. Consider paying up the extra P200 to P2000 for this benefit.

    #7 Protection for the whole family.

    With prepaid health cards, you can choose to get one for every family member, or just for you or your spouse, depending on the budget. Seniors can also get coverage, so if you are supporting your elderly parents, this is a good idea for them too. You can also get different coverage terms or products, depending on the needs of each family member.

    Why even wait for Santa? This holiday season, consider gifting this to yourself or to your family and friends. It’s not as delicious as a fruitcake, or as techie as a new phone, but if a medical emergency strikes, it’s one gift you’ll surely treasure.

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    Should you get insurance for your baby? Learn more here.

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