Quality health care can be tough to afford for the majority of residents in Manila. Hospitals are in short supply and medical practitioners are flying off to higher paying foreign cities. The lack of hospitals keeps the rent high and the few doctors who do stay in the city are forced to raise prices to justify their opportunity loss. For child birth services at least, an alternative solution is emerging: bare bones facilities called lying-in clinics. These are built away from hospitals and are focused purely on assisting pregnancy. A typical lying-in will only have one delivery room with one obstetrician. Expect to find a team of nursing students on stand-by working for minimum or no pay.
The cost of a lying-in stay ranges between US$100 to 225, the upper limit for patients who request air conditioning. By comparison, the equivalent costs in a local hospital will total around US$820. PhilHealth, the state-owned health insurer, has recently announced that it will offer insurance packages for accredited clinics. This has the added benefit of distinguishing the reputable facilities from the shady ones.
Interestingly enough, other facilities – particularly in Makati, the city’s posher financial district – are using a luxury approach by highlighting a calmer environment (hospitals are jam-packed as previously mentioned) and more attentive patient care. Will we see more health care segmentation in the future to address the needs of both rich and poor?