Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen
My list of medical care and testing around the world now includes the Philippines. As usual, my expat health care in Cebu City was based at a hospital recommended by locals and other expats. My specific experience this time is with blood tests, hormone tests, an ultrasound, and a chest X-ray.
I’m so lucky to be able to see doctors in other countries, and then keep traveling despite a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis in June 2018, and a double mastectomy in July 2018. This latest round of tests show there still is no evidence of disease. That’s the great news!
The other great news is that expat health care in Cebu was high quality and reasonably priced without insurance.
I will outline the process for the doctor visits and tests first, and then get into the pricing, and then the price comparison to Any City, USA.
Expat health care in Cebu: consultation and tests
Step one to finding a reputable doctor or medical facility in a foreign country is always to ask the locals or fellow expats who’ve lived long term in an area. I joined a Facebook group for expats, and asked the group for help, as I always do. There were no women with former breast cancer, but the resounding recommendation for tests and consultations was for Chong Hua Hospital, a private hospital.
There two locations – one in Cebu City and one in Mandaue City. Mandaue was a tad closer to our rental, so we went there. Without minutes on a local phone number, we went to the hospital to inquire about an appointment in person.
The receptionist was efficient, polite, competent. I explained we’d be around for a month, and there was no rush to be seen, yet she offered a same-day appointment with a doctor who was in that day. Unprepared and without my medical file I carry around the world, I said I’d be back with my file to see the doctor for my initial consultation.
The next week, I saw Dr. Michelle Cabanesas. She was kind and patient as she listened to my history. Not many American women with double mastectomies in Croatia and follow-up care from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai have walked into her office. Her examination of my chest was thorough; she asked me many questions; she ordered key tests that will help me continue on my path forward.
The facilities were clean and new. The equipment with which I had my tests, the same.
Expat health care in Cebu: tests and prices
We paid out of pocket, with no insurance.
Chest X-ray: taken in the hospital’s imaging department the same day as my consultation. I was in the waiting room maybe 30 minutes, max. I was to return the next day for results. Price: $13
Vaginal ultrasound: done in the hospital’s imaging department the same day as my consultation. I waited after my X-ray for about 30 minutes. I had the results the same day. Price: $26
Blood tests – from the breast cancer tumor marker to cholesterol levels. liver function, and everything in between: done in the hospital’s lab department the following morning, after I’d fasted for 12 hours. Results could be emailed to me the following day (so two days after my consultation). Price: $136
Hormone tests: blood drawn at the same time as the blood testing. Results were to be emailed to me two days later (so four days after my consultation). Price: $100
After my blood draw, I took the X-ray and ultrasound test results to the doctor’s office on an upper floor. I was to forward the emails with blood and hormone tests, to be ready for a follow up consultation the following week.
Total cost: $275.
Total time: Maybe two hours.
Results: Fabulous. Every item tested show I’m in excellent health for a woman my age.
Expat health care in Cebu: price comparison
It’s not easy to do a price comparison between my tests and services in the Philippines, and what it might have cost in America. Insurance companies negotiate rates in bulk, and prices for people without insurance vary widely depending on location.
With those caveats, I used fairhealthconsumer.org for the imaging pricing, set to Cincinnati, Ohio; and I used healthtestingcenters.com for like-for-like blood and hormone tests, including the CA 15-3 test for breast cancer tumor indicators. These sites gave me a decent idea for a ‘retail cost’ back in the U.S. – without insurance negotiations.
Doctor fees for test reviews were included in the Cebu pricing.
I’ll return to Chong Hua Hospital to see the doctor and for a few final questions, and I need one more annual female test with a gynecologist. I will gladly return to Chong Hua based on the great service and affordability I experienced the first time.
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We hope you enjoyed our personal story expat health care in Cebu. We also have shared other medical experiences around the world. Here are a few:
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