Additional advice when coming home during COVID-19


More than a year ago, my article, “Coming home during COVID-19” (Commentary, 1/16/22), was published. Since that time, I had visited Manila four times, visits ranging from eight days to five weeks. In the interim, travel restrictions and entry requirements, including the mandatory quarantine (discontinued on Feb. 1, 2022), have changed.

I noticed a few more things that I would like to add and these are the following:

1) If your medical insurance, and for us seniors, it is Medicare, will allow you foreign medical insurance coverage, get it. It might be expensive but it will help you with catastrophic illnesses; it will save you a lot of money and grief. Compared to the United States, medical care and doctors’ fees are much cheaper here, however, if it will come out of your pocket, it is still a lot of money. You hear stories of patients owing hospitals and doctors millions of pesos. If you are in the medical field, at least you can use your profession for discounts on doctors’ fees.

2) Get a lawyer here, especially if you intend to stay longer or come back permanently; don’t wait until you need one.

3) Paying with our dollars, a lot of medicines, mostly branded and not generic, are much cheaper here like insulin (most are made in Germany and abroad), eye drops, and newer approved ones even considering our co-pay. With a prescription and your senior card, you get a special price. The pharmacist will give you a 90-day supply as long as you show him/her your passport and plane ticket. Last year, President Joe Biden promised that he will put a ceiling on the prices of medicines for seniors. I hope he does it.

4) Although difficult to comprehend and quite morbid, wherever we are, we should have some form of end-of-life planning. This was from a health care newsletter. It included: last will and testament and trusts, health care proxy, and life insurance/disability and beneficiaries.

I do hope that this additional information will be helpful and practical to all “kababayans” whose hearts are still in the Philippines. Enjoy your stay here even for a week or a lifetime.

Ida M. Tiongco,

[email protected]

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