I slipped and hit the glass shower enclosure on my way down, which broke as a result, and in the blink of an eye, what was supposed to be a lazy Sunday evening went from chill setting to panic mode. For the next 48 hours, I found myself being wheeled from one room to another: the emergency room, hospital room, operating room, recovery room and finally back home to my own room.
That was one of the most eventful two days of my life, and certainly top of the list for nerve wracking. But while in a red haze of pain, one thing kept me sane: having health insurance that can cover my medical bills.
When we were sent home, what a relief to be informed that between my health insurance and my active Philhealth coverage, we won’t have to pay for a single thing. If you ever find yourself in a medical emergency similar to mine, wouldn’t you wish for health insurance that can also come to your rescue?
#1 Check if you have one, and carry your health card with you at all times
Most employers offer health insurance as part of their benefits for employees. What differs are the annual benefit limit plus inclusions. If you’re not sure you have one, call your HR officer now and check, and if they confirm, ask for the health card that will prove it. When you have your health card, put it in your wallet so it will be with you wherever you go. I also suggest taking a photo and storing that in your phone. During my emergency, my husband retrieved my health card from my wallet and disappeared in Admissions trying to get us a room. In the meantime, I had a photo of my card to flash when needed at the emergency room.
#2 Working freelance or part of a small team so no health insurance? Shop for one today
It’s a misconception that health insurance will be too expensive when you are an entrepreneur or working in a small company. What’s expensive is to pay for the medical bill when emergencies happen. You can check online and compare the costs between different insurers. You can start with top companies, or go to a site like Maria Health that can be your resource for options. If your company won’t pay for it, consider getting a prepaid health card for yourself, or even for your whole family. These are good for a year, and you can decide next year to buy again, or maybe your work situation will change and you will have health coverage without having to pay for one yourself.
#3 Even with a health card, it’s good to have emergency savings
While we breathed a sigh of relief for not having to pay for any medical charges, my whirlwind 48-hour medical emergency already ate up 60 percent of my annual benefit. With 11 more months this 2023, it’s good to be prepared if the 40 percent will be used up. Financial experts recommend having an emergency fund that can cover between 3 to 9 months of your living expenses. With all the bills that need to be paid every month, it’s not easy to save and build up an emergency fund. But you have to, and the best time to start is now.
#4 Claim for all the benefits you can
It was tempting to binge on Korean dramas but I decided to also look at my financial documents and came across two insurance policies where I am entitled to hospitalization allowance. I wish I could tell you that collecting on these was a piece of cake, but they can test your patience. There are forms to fill up, documents to source and submit, and deadlines to meet. But these things add up, and they are my benefit that I paid for, so I will press on. You should too. Make a list of insurance policies you own, and the benefits and riders that are included. This information should be readily accessible to you and to your emergency contact.
#5 Don’t be content with Philhealth; collect from SSS, PagIBIG and other mandatory contributions
My bad but it looks like I missed the window to make a claim with SSS for hospitalization benefit. Make sure that does not happen to you – ask your HR officer for all possible claims you can make, or your family, or do it yourself if you are able. And do it as early as possible, or soon after the medical emergency. Medical costs continue after you are discharged, from medication to doctor visits so all these extra claims can only be welcome. PagIBIG is really a savings program, but in the event you will need cash, check out their multi-purpose loans and more to help tide you over.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.