Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Health is Wealth

When I came back from the US back in 2002, one of my fears was not being covered by health insurance.  Actually it is still one of my fears but I do feel more reassured with the Philhealth coverage that the government has provided to those who are not employed by corporations that provide their employees with private health insurance.  It is better than nothing.  Actually back when I gave birth to Joselyn we were able to avail of Philhealth's benefits, I think we were reimbursed P2000 on the hospital bill (though a small percentage of the total P80k+ that accumulated).  We didn't continue with the membership payments and when Joselyn was hospitalized back in 2009 for dengue, her pediatrician asked us if we had Philhealth, which we unfortunately answered in the negative.  We could've saved on our hospital bills back then too.

This is definitely one thing that we should not procrastinate about.  Even the poorest of families should try to avail of the government's offer of P100 per month payment to be fully covered by Philhealth.  Only one person in your household, the father usually, needs to apply and the insurance covers his spouse and children.

Our church, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (we always refer to Lourdes for short), last month was inviting parishioners to have their medical laboratory for a package of P250 per person, which included blood, urine, stool and ECG tests.  Jojo and I have not had our medical exam for years.  Our check-ups with the doctors are only on an as-need basis and we have never had an annual check-up.  I'm particularly bad about this.  Even in the US when I was fully covered by my employer, I never went on annual check-ups.  But we're no longer young and though the fear of discovering some illness is there, it's better to discover and cure it than to let the illness or disease spread until there is no cure.

My sister-in-law has been one to insist that we have an annual check-up especially since she knows that their family has a history of different diseases including diabetes and heart problems.  She even offered to pay for our laboratories.  An angel indeed.

So last month, which was actually Health Awareness Month, we went to the Lourdes Parish Center to have our blood drawn, to submit our urine and stool samples and have our ECG monitored.  We only received the results about 3 weeks ago and the blood, urine and stool tests turned out normal.  We couldn't figure out the ECG results because of the person's handwriting and we are scheduled to meet with a cardiologist tomorrow for him to read the ECG for us.  My ECG comment starts with "Incomplete... block..." the rest unreadable.  Jojo's starts with "Poor...".  Those words do give us something to worry about, but we're hoping that the cardiologist can decipher the other doctor's handwriting and shed light to our heart's condition.

I did try to have another doctor read the ECG at the Parish Center where they have free medical and dental check-ups every Monday and Friday (from 1-4pm).  But after a few hours of waiting I was told that this certain doctor does not read ECGs and we were referred to a cardiologist.  The waiting was not wasted though, I told the doctor of my consistent coughing and was prescribed with a *free* cough medicine.

I write this for others to be aware or if they already are, to take advantage of the many cheap or free services that are offered.  I find that it is the middle class that falls through the cracks - either too proud to fall or wait in line at the barangay or other institutions that offers free checkups, or would just rather go to a regular doctor even if they have to pay or worse still, not go with the necessary checkups.  I know of people whose children are not immunized and the kids have caught measles and chicken pox.  They say that the immunization is too expensive, but I see them carrying expensive gadgets like cellphones.  We have to put more priority in our health and most especially in our children's health.

When I was waiting for the doctor at the Lourdes parish center, I had a chance to observe the people who were waiting with me.  You couldn't tell what their economic status was and neither did the staff ask when we listed our names.  They were mostly mothers with 1 or 2 young children in tow.  There was one adult who said that she was listed first on the Adult list, but ended up to be one of the last to be seen since the doctor checked on the kids first and then their parents who were also listed.  The lady, whom I'm guessing was younger than me, said that she was a barangay sweeper who got wet during one of our recent storms and caught a cough.  It's best to get there early even if you have to wait.  One older man who wanted to see the doctor was denied because they said that their list was full had come around 3:30pm.  The lady doctor arrived around 3pm.  Since I don't live far, I decided to go home after waiting the first 30 minutes, and then came back around 3pm.  I was seen around 5pm.  It's not much different with physicians from other hospitals and clinics, who usually arrive late - at least an hour after their scheduled clinic hours.

If you do live around the area, please look into the social services that Lourdes offers.  Or check with your local parish, if they provide similar services.  And yes, go to your nearest Philhealth office to apply for insurance coverage.  Your health is more valuable than any cellphone or cellphone load.

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