Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Salty Dog

It Could Happen to Anyone - Are You Prepared?

Recommended Posts

Salty Dog

I originally posted this in April 2013.
 
I know there are a lot of new members on here who might be interested in reading about my experiences in regards to the medical care aspects as well as the financial cost involved in an extended hospital stay.
 
Hopefully it will also be a wake-up call to those of you who might not have considered or planned for the possibility of such an event if it happens to you.
 
Those of you who have TRICARE will hopefully gain some solace that TRICARE will pay for major medical expenses.
 
Since my OP was closed, if you have any questions, I will be able to answer them in this new thread.
 
So it will be easier to refer to for anyone having specific questions, I have cut and pasted the Original Post below: 

 

 
In 2002 I retired to my home state of Florida after serving 32 years in the U.S Coast Guard.

I've been living in the Philippines since Aug 2009. I started off in Santa Rosa, Laguna and then a short stay in Bacon, Sorsogon. I've been here in Dumaguete since Aug 2010. Everything was going fine and I was finally getting settled in to my brand new house (rental).

On December 5th 2010 I noticed that my fingers were tingling and numb. I went to the doctor, but he checked me out and said it was probably no big deal and should go away in a few days. The next day I spent most of the day running around on my motorcycle and felt fine. That evening I noticed that I was having problem focusing on the TV. When I woke up on the 7th I had trouble maintaining my balance when walking and I had double vision. I knew something was wrong so I went to the hospital emergency room at Silliman Medical Center. They did a CAT scan and x-rays, but everything was fine. They checked me in to the hospital and scheduled me to see a neurologist. She walked in my room looked at me and said I had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
 
GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs, arms and upper body. These symptoms increase in intensity until the muscles cannot be used at all and the patient is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases, the disorder is life-threatening and is considered a medical emergency. The patient is often put on a respirator to assist with breathing. Most patients, however, recover from even the most severe cases. GBS is rare occurring in only 1-3 out of 100,000 people. If you are interested you can read all about it online.
 
The doctor asked if I could walk. I said sure and got out of bed to show her, but I couldn't stand up. My speech was also becoming slurred. She told me she was moving me to the ICU because there was a good chance I would soon lose the ability to breathe on my own and I would have to be placed on a ventilator. Within 24 hours I was almost totally paralyzed. I could not talk or eat, but at least I could still breathe on my own, well barely with the help of oxygen. Let's just say that by then I was scared. To make things worse, all expenses had to be paid in advance, so my insurance was useless. The drug that I needed to be administered over 5 days cost over P200,000 ($5,000) a day. Thank God for credit cards. At least a new private room was only P2,000 ($45) a day and believe it or not the ICU was even less. After a week in ICU I was breathing better so I was moved back to a regular room. I remained in the hospital until Jan 8th 2011. Total bill for hospital and doctors was about P1,400,000 ($35,000). Considering my drugs were over a million peso, the cost for the hospital stay and doctors was very reasonable. Tricare came through though and reimbursed me for most everything within a few months.
 
When I was released I still couldn't walk or even set up in bed. I couldn't feed myself or chew, had double vision and I had to be taken home in an ambulance. I rented a hospital bed since I still couldn't set up to eat. I started physical therapy 6 days a week. Within two weeks I could set up and transfer from the bed to a recliner. The doctor hoped I would be walking in three months but a little over a month I was on my feet. Slow at first and since my shoulders still did not work, if I fell I couldn't get up by myself. In three months and I had come a long way and my vision has returned to normal. The only real big problems were my balance, hands and shoulders. I couldn't raise my arms above my head and my hands were still numb and tingled. I couldn't even open a bottle of water. As the months passed I could at least do most things for myself again. I still couldn't get up by myself if I fell.
 
Well it’s now been over two years and even though I've come along way, it looks like it could still be months before I am anywhere near back to normal if ever. I can now lift my arms above my head. I can drive and if you saw me walking around the mall, you probably would not know there was anything wrong with me. My hands are still the worse, but hey as you can see I can type.  I still can’t write very well and can barely button my shirt. I have problems with doing anything that requires fine motor skills with my hands. I still have a balance problem, so I have to be careful when and where I walk. Much of my body still is numb but at the same time parts like my hands and feet are hyper sensitive. A fine edge makes it fell like a sharp knife against my fingers and if I step on even the smallest object, it hurts and throws me off balance. Having my nails trimmed used to feel like I was having my fingers and toes cut off. It’s better now but still very strange sensation. Anyway that’s enough about my GBS.
 
I've been with the same woman since I moved to the Philippines. I would never have made it through this illness without her love and support. There for a while she was my care giver and even now she has to do things for me. Bing is your typical Filipina, 5’ 1”, 105 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, tanned skin. She speaks 3 languages fluently and understands several others. Her English is better than mine and I always ask her how to spell English words. She is a private person, so I won't say much more about her here.
 
I know I've rambled on, but I thought it was good to let people know what I've been through and how it's possible to survive here even when things aren't going so smoothly. I figure some of you would like to hear from a retired military person who had dealt with a major medical condition and Tricare. With the love of a good woman and a little bit (or a lot) of luck, I've survived. If you have any questions, just ask.
 
Don

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CardiacKid

 

 

Those of you who have TRICARE will hopefully gain some solace that TRICARE will pay for major medical expenses.
 For those of us who have Tricare, all three major hospitals in Cebu City are now decertified. That means if we get care at Cebu Doctor's, Chong Hua, or Perpetual Succour hospitals we will not be reimbursed one centavo. Another member of this Forum has been fighting with Tricare for several years now to try to get us the same benefits as retirees in other countries enjoy. The current state of Tricare was a major part of my decision to return to the U.S. I would not rely too heavily on Tricare to pay for anything. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wrye83

Even in Manila? I know it sucks in case of emergencies but they do accept tricare at the VA right?

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CardiacKid

Even in Manila? I know it sucks in case of emergencies but they do accept tricare at the VA right?

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

No. The VA here treats only service connected disabilities. For instance, if your service connected disability was a broken back, they would not treat you for pneumonia. Tricare is not accepted at the VA in Manila. Manila is under an experimental Tricare Demonstration Project. You must use the hospitals they have contracted with and pay an estimated 25% of the bill up front. Currently, they have only two hospitals for inpatient care. Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital. St. Luke's, the best in the Philippines, is available for out patient care only. All care must be provided by Tricare certified physicians and their list is both obscure and ever changing without notice. St Luke's was previously accepting Tricare for inpatient care but Tricare refused to pay them and they quit. My best description of Tricare here is like walking through a minefield blindfolded. It's not a matter of if they will refuse to pay, only when. There seems to be no political pressure we can apply. Our Senators and Representatives in the U.S. realize we are too small a group to worry about. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Enuff

Sounds like some idiot in the government has found a way to save millions & maybe billions.............

 

Decertify hospitals overseas, the retirees will be forced to move back and spend their pensions in the USA.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ex231

No. The VA here treats only service connected disabilities. For instance, if your service connected disability was a broken back, they would not treat you for pneumonia. Tricare is not accepted at the VA in Manila. Manila is under an experimental Tricare Demonstration Project. You must use the hospitals they have contracted with and pay an estimated 25% of the bill up front. Currently, they have only two hospitals for inpatient care. Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital. St. Luke's, the best in the Philippines, is available for out patient care only. All care must be provided by Tricare certified physicians and their list is both obscure and ever changing without notice. St Luke's was previously accepting Tricare for inpatient care but Tricare refused to pay them and they quit. My best description of Tricare here is like walking through a minefield blindfolded. It's not a matter of if they will refuse to pay, only when. There seems to be no political pressure we can apply. Our Senators and Representatives in the U.S. realize we are too small a group to worry about. 

 

I have heard and read the same STUPID thing. Others have said that isn't true but I believe you. I just returned from the US and saw the VA Dr there about a severe back problem I have. The nurse thought I could just go to Manila if I want and I told her about the "service connected problem" only thing. She said that was the dumbest thing she'd ever heard and had a really hard time believing that and vowed to check on it and get back to me. So if indeed that is true she said going to Guam may be a good option to be seen and if necessary she said they would medivac me to Hawaii for surgery. Not sure about all that though. I don't know what I will do but wasn't willing to stay any longer than I had to in the US playing the jerk around game. The MRI tech told me he didn't know how I was walking and the radiologist report was devastating .. so my Dr prescribed more pills that I already told her weren't working and to come back if I lost control of my bodily functions or became paralyzed :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bill H

It is true about the VA here.  If you are not service connected for a specific condition they will not treat you!  You can sit there and die in front of them, but they will not treat you.  They will refill prescriptions for non-service related conditions at the moment, but that too is subject to change.  To rely on the VA here would be a fools choice.  I don't know about the VA in Guam, I've never been there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NOSOCALPINOY

For medical issues while in the Philippines and can not rely on your U.S. health care coverage or even with V.A. or TRICARE, save your centavos to pay for those upfront cash medical bills! Weather you get reimbursed or not is another issue after the fact or one can go financially broke just by waiting to get paid back! :idontknow:     

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Salty Dog

I thought 100% Disabled Vets get treatment for anything.

 

Even in USA you need some service connected disability to get in the door, at least for free care. But then they will often treat you for other things.

 

When I used the VA in the USA, I had to pay because I didn't have any service connected disability. They also billed TRICARE to recover some cost. I had to pay the same regardless if TRICARE paid them or not.

 

If the VA care here is like the VA in many parts of the USA. I wouldn't want to use them.

 

Give me my choice of where I get my health care any day over using VA.

 

Not withstanding the fact that apparently you don't have much of a choice here in the Philippines.

Edited by Salty Dog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wrye83

I think they will see you as long as you have a percentage.....but that percentage determines your priority level of non disability visits.

 

That was my understanding when I got the briefing upon my discharge. That's been awhile ago though. I'm likely very wrong on that.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wrye83

If the VA care here is like the VA in many parts of the USA. I wouldn't want to use them.

I guess I've been very lucky. I always hear of horror stories concerning the VA but I've always been treated great by them....at three different VA hospitals. (Louisville KY, Temple TX and Hood)

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ex231

I guess I've been very lucky. I always hear of horror stories concerning the VA but I've always been treated great by them....at three different VA hospitals. (Louisville KY, Temple TX and Hood)

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

Just like I found out with private doctors the VA is hit and miss. There are good ones and some that aren't worth a damn. As far as the way I was treated by staff it was top notch but the foreign doctor was as dumb as a box of rocks.

 

Someone mentioned that it would be wise to have the funds to be treated if needed and for routine crap. I am fortunate to have that ability.

 

As I understand it Manila is the only VA facility in the world that treats direct service connected disabilities and nothing else. You would think that you could get the same level of care at ANY VA facility   :banghead:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wrye83

I wouldn't think that. That's far too logical for government.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Salty Dog

As I understand it Manila is the only VA facility in the world that treats direct service connected disabilities and nothing else. You would think that you could get the same level of care at ANY VA facility  

 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Manila Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic (VA) is the only VA office located outside the United States or its territories.

 

VA Manila has a staff of 231 of which 222 are Filipino citizens 

 

It wasn't placed here to service American citizen Veterans.

 

It's here primarily for Filipino Veterans.

 

VA Manila pays out over $16 million per month in disability compensation to approximately 15,000 beneficiaries, over half of which are Filipino WW II Veterans or their family members. These monthly payments are in addition to the one-time lump sum payments made to 18,530 Filipino WW II Veterans and their survivors who have received $221 million in one-time payments since 2009.

 

There are several thousand more Filipino Veterans that have served since WW II in the US Military.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ex231

 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Manila Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic (VA) is the only VA office located outside the United States or its territories.

 

VA Manila has a staff of 231 of which 222 are Filipino citizens 

 

It wasn't placed here to service American citizen Veterans.

 

It's here primarily for Filipino Veterans.

 

VA Manila pays out over $16 million per month in disability compensation to approximately 15,000 beneficiaries, over half of which are Filipino WW II Veterans or their family members. These monthly payments are in addition to the one-time lump sum payments made to 18,530 Filipino WW II Veterans and their survivors who have received $221 million in one-time payments since 2009.

 

There are several thousand more Filipino Veterans that have served since WW II in the US Military.

 

 

That seems rather ambiguous as there is also an out patient clinic on Guam. In my mind the VA is the VA is the VA and should provide care to any eligible any time at any of their locations. I doubt they would refuse care to a Filipino vet in the US because the facility was primarily set up for US vets.

 

I also found this which the way I read it says if you're registered with the OPC in Manila and eligible you can get treated. But maybe I'm interpreting wrong. Read this and give me your thoughts.

 

The VA Outpatient Clinic in the Philippines is the only VA healthcare facility located in a foreign country and located on US Embassy property.  Only Veterans who have a service connected disability of at least zero percent and registered with VA OPC are eligible for care and services.  VHA Directive 2012-019 and 38CFR17.35, provide the authority for delivery of certain outpatient health care services to U.S. Veterans residing or visiting in the Philippines.  Service connected U.S. Veterans who receive care through the OPC may be treated for their non-service connected disabilities within the available scope of services and resources of the OPC.   Inpatient and Non VA Care (NVC) outpatient care is limited to treatment of service-connected conditions and is provided through NVC arrangements with designated private health care providers in the community.  All costs associated with treatment from an NVC provider or medical facility for non-service connected treatment is the responsibility of the Veteran.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Guidelines. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..