My daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was about four years old, and developed allergic rhinitis when her asthma disappeared, so we have been fixtures of hospitals and doctors clinics over the past years, meeting with pediatricians, pulmonologists, ENTs, allergologists in the Philippines.
Now that my daughter is in college, we still go to doctors every now and then, particularly allergologists and pulmonologists.
Just want to share bits and pieces of our experiences; first, to just let out my burdens, and, second, to share some info and probably help some one out there.
1. Many of the best pulmonologists, ENTs, pediatricians, and allergologists in the Philippines are not affiliated with HMOs.
Sad to say, these doctors are so good and so well-known among can-afford patients that they don’t need marketing help from HMOs. They don’t even have enough time for their existing patients, so they don’t need to get more patients thru HMOs.
During times when we don’t have other options, we go to these doctors, and we wait for hours for the doctor to arrive from their clinics at Asian Hospital or Makati Med or Saint Luke’s, and again wait for some more as those with appointments are seen first.
However, this is not at all a put-down to doctors affiliated with HMOs. There are a lot of good, well-educated, experienced HMO doctors. In some cases, compassion may be among the reasons why they have HMO affiliations. They want to reach out to the working population.
2. HMOs make deferred and discounted payments to doctors.
This means that doctors earn less from an HMO patient than from a cash-paying patient. So what do you think is the effect of this on some doctors in relation to the quality or length of consultation? Haven’t you noticed that in some clinics, cash-paying patients stay longer in the room, and HMO patients are rushed?
The same with some dentists, by the way. The better option if you’re an HMO cardholder is to have your HMO-paid dental service done at a dental clinic where there are several dentists, and these dentists are working on a salary basis.
3. Allergologists or allergists can only do so much.
Like many other kinds of illnesses, allergists, not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries, even the wealthy ones, are limited to what they can do. Up to now, they don’t have remedies that can permanently stop allergic rhinitis.
We’ve gone to at least three allergists also suffering from allergic rhinitis, and who were sniffing, whiffing and winkling as we consulted about my daughter’s allergic rhinitis.
The antihistamines and the steroids can only be used for a time. Prolonged use can damage the body’s systems. What’s more, the better antihistamines cost much, such as Virlix, which is nearly 50 pesos each. The inhaled products also hurt the throat. You cure the allergy, but you get another illness — sore throat.
We’ve tried almost every type of anti-allergy product introduced in the Philippines, I think, except the anti-allergy shots or immunology shots, which require months or years of taking the shots, and then not being sure if they’re going to be effective. It was found that these shots don’t work for everybody.
I’ve also read that if the shots are effective, they’ll be effective for only a set period of time, meaning you get monthly shots that cost about 500 to 1k pesos per shot for about 2 years, and be allergy-free for about one or two years, if effective.
4. Is “magpa-alaga” sa iisang pulmonologist or allergist effective?
There are some who would recommend magpa-alaga sa isang doctor. The ideal set-up would be for the patient to be monitored by the doctor, with changes, improvements or side effects recorded. We tried this advice.
With at least two doctors, I thought it was going well. Later on, as good doctors have plenty of patients in several hospitals and clinics, they lose the monitoring and turn to routine, until the time comes when you can guess exactly what they’re gonna ask, say and prescribe.
In several instances, because of the years we’ve been going in and out of clinics, I diagnosed and tested my daughter, prescribed treatment, bought my prescription, and it worked. Don’t do this, of course. Do this only if you have gone through years of observing and learning from doctors, you read dosage and side effects on MIMS, you’re 100 percent sure, and you don’t have any doubt and fear.
5. Allergy test
During the time I had an HMO card, allergy tests were not covered. When finally HMOs covered the skin test for allergy, I was no longer employed and had no more HMO.
I was not so gung-ho about the skin test, as we already knew what were triggering my daughter’s allergic rhinitis. I know the culprits were road dust, household dust, grass pollen, strong perfume, smoke, extreme heat or cold, molds, strong odors.
Nevertheless, we got the money for the skin test, about 3,000 pesos, and had her get the test, and yes, you guessed it, the major allergy triggers were those I mentioned above — the same things we already knew.
I should put my daughter inside a balloon with air inside, or she should get extremely wealthy so she can create her own clean world. I always tell my daughter to do well, or marry well (joke), as household chores sometimes trigger her allergy. I’d ask her to wash the dishes, or sweep the floor, and minutes later, she’d be sneezing, winkling, sniffing, snuffing, whiffing, sniffling.
Perhaps this is the reason I’m working so hard, so I can leave some money for her to use when I’m gone.
These are just a few of the things I can say about pulmonologists, ENTs, pediatricians and allergologists in the Philippines. As I have said earlier, perhaps I just want to let out some of my burdens.