Saturday, July 1, 2023

My Personal Journey with Healthcare in the Philippines

One of the recent videos that I’ve seen on TikTok was about people in England (if I’m not mistaken) being asked how much they think it costs for medical assistance/attention in the United States. It blew my mind to see how surprised they were about how expensive everything was and how apparently, they were enjoying a lot of free medical services as part of their healthcare system. It seemed that they had it better than the US in that department. Obviously, they are miles away different from our situation in the Philippines as well. Plus, a lot of services for them are free!

As much as I would like to praise our country in terms of health care, I just can’t. There is still a lot of room for improvement. As someone who deals with health care in a rural part of our province, I can’t help but wonder if things are any better in the city (probably). I once had to go to the ER for difficulty breathing and the doctor just snapped the band of my bra, brushing me off by saying I was just wearing it too tight. Another time I needed to get blood tests done to figure out what was happening to me – but it was already early evening, and the lab was closed. Plus, some lab tests cannot be conducted there. My sample would have to be taken somewhere else so the results would be days later. I guess this is why when what is happening to them is a serious emergency, most people I know would rather travel to the city to get medical attention. 

Image by Tung Nguyen from Pixabay

Another thing that can be frustrating is medical checkups. Going for checkups here means going to the clinic early in the day to sign up for an appointment. You can’t call for an appointment and the secretary does not want any other person to sign in for an appointment for you. So, if the doctor is available at 3PM, you go sign up early in the morning. And you won’t even be first most of the time since everyone else has the same idea. Then when you get there before the clinic hours, you usually wait very long. This is not just if there are more people in line before you, but because the doctor hardly ever (uhm, never) comes on time. And when you get your time with the doctor, it usually feels like a factory line: someone comes out and then you come in. You chat with the doctor, he writes a prescription, and then off you go. I don’t feel any real care from the doctor more than it feels like he’s doing the bare minimum of what needs to be done and is just getting it over with. It does not feel worth the price of a consultation.

There’s this internist I used to see that brushed off a certain condition I had as something that doctors only say when they can’t diagnose your condition properly. I felt as if he did not want to discuss it when I asked about it (because we were taking too long?). I had tests conducted for this by a specialist in that part of the body and yet he was brushing it off as a "guess" by that doctor. That turned me off from this doctor quick. And that was just one of two pre-existing conditions I had that were diagnosed through tests by specialists that he did not pay much attention to. 

I’m not asking for much, but I do want the doctor to take my health seriously. It’s frustrating because he is only one of a few doctors available in our area and seeing another doctor would mean traveling for an hour or so, which is not very convenient or practical. To think that this is a problem I have experienced at the private health care level, I can’t imagine how much more frustrating it is for people who avail of medical services in government hospitals where there are bound to be more people who need medical attention. This is not to say that all doctors are inefficient, or that they do these things on purpose. With the fact that there are not enough doctors or nurses in the country since many opt to go overseas to work, it must be difficult for the medical personnel available to fit in everyone given their limited time and resources.

My sisters consult with doctors via online services these days, and it’s something that I am inclined to do as well after my frustrating experiences with doctors in our area. They consult online, get lab tests done at the clinics in our area with a request from their doctor, and then get prescriptions online if needed. It’s an interesting way to do this. It seems so convenient, and I want to try it. My only hesitation comes from once having a problem with an online service/app because it kept messing up the appointment I had with the doctor, but my sisters have recommended other apps where I could look for a new one. I hope that this will work out for me this time around. 


1 comment

Vayie said...

We recently had this when we had mom checked. First cousin na ng Daddy ko yung doctor pero no special treatment. His clinic hours is 6PM. We were there way before that knowing maraming pasyente. Dumating yung doctor at 10:00PM. By this time nagsialisan na yung ibang patients out of frustration. This is around the same time my mom was very very weak and naka-wheelchair. Nakaka-frustrate.

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