Will Medicare follow baby boomers to the Philippines?

Eric Lachica (left) with former Health Secretary Alran Bengzon, now CEO of The Medical City

Eric Lachica (left) with former Health Secretary Alran Bengzon, now CEO of The Medical City

By Maricar CP Hampton

A growing number of FilAm baby boomers are now choosing to spend their retirement years in their country of birth. Many of them are looking for ways to receive quality and affordable healthcare even when they are in the Philippines.

Thus, the proposed Medicare portability is becoming an attractive concept. In the plan, health care coverage will apply to those who are living and traveling outside of the United States.

“We are trying to build the confidence in the health care industry in the Philippines. Using the temporary coverage of Medicare in the Philippines, Filipino American retirees who are there temporarily can feel secure that if they get sick they will be covered by Medicare in American-certified hospitals,” explained Eric Lachica, organizer of U.S. Medicare Philippines.

“Right now, the FilAm patient has to pay the Philippine hospital for the emergency room or any urgent medically necessary care upfront,” he said.

Supporters argue that Medicare portability makes fiscal sense because medical care in the Philippines costs less. Portability would help an estimated 100 Filipinos Americans who retire every day, they added.

Lachica said the portability concept is one way of saving Medicare several billion dollars a year. “That’s our estimate if they allow our retirees coverage in the Philippines.”

Daisy Tucay, chair of U.S Medicare Philippines, said, “As of now we are forming and creating the US Medicare portability Philippine chapter.”

Recently a group of health advocates from the US Medicare PH and US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) visited the Philippines to continue to push for portability.

While in the country, they forged alliances with health officials and accredited hospitals like The Medical City (TMC) and the Makati Medical Center. The idea, said Lachica, is for the Medicare Advantage Company to have a contract with a hospital like Medical City, and the hospital will just bill the Medicare Advantage Company.

“We are preparing for the groundwork for the healthcare industry trade mission in the Philippines and we have initiated conversations with insurance companies representatives of American businesses interested in partnering and investing in the healthcare industry in the Philippines,” he said.

The goal this year according to Lachica is to promote and expand the current policy of temporary ‘emergency/urgent care’ coverage in the Philippines under the Medicare Advantage or part C plans of major U.S. health insurance companies.

Many FilAm retirees who immigrated during the 1960s, and 1970s stand to lose their contributions in the U.S. Medicare system when they retire. Currently, Medicare prohibits coverage for American retirees residing or traveling outside of the U.S.

“We are focused on doing this because of long-term care,” Lachica said. “For example if the Filipino American retiree wants to stay there permanently we like their benefits to be in place as long as he or she lives there.”

“We estimate that taxpayers will save at least $5,000 per year for each Filipino American senior who chooses to return to their country of birth and avail of quality health care there,” he said.

One Comment

  1. Indeed this will be a win win situation. As a Baby Boomer, I would choose to have a Plan B and live in the Philippines as a second home after living here in US for over 30 years.
    I have seen life of the older generation after 65, they loose their value and mostly get stuck in retirement homes usually a miserable living condition.
    In the Philippines, Seniors get a lot of discounts and benefits. Do you know there are certain places like Makati that do not issue driving violation tickets to seniors or if you are driving for a senior?

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