Jamaica Expat Health Insurance
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Located approximately 140 kilometers south of Cuba, and 1000 kilometers north of the Columbia/Panama border, Jamaica is a beautiful and unique Caribbean island and considered by many to be the most geographically diverse. Warm weather, rushing rivers, picturesque waterfalls, jagged mountains, lush tropical vegetation, and of course sandy beaches are all on offer in Jamaica. These natural wonders draw tourists and adventure seekers by the millions every year, with no sign of slowing down. These figures, despite global economic hardships, are in fact on the rise and the developing nation is continually seeking trade agreements and partnerships with foreign industries and transport services to ensure the flow of capital. The Jamaican government sees the need to continue pursuing economic growth for the country if it is to curtail the reputation of violence that has sadly been hung around its neck for the last three decades, and feed the nearly 2.9 million mouths that reside in Jamaica. With a national debt figure estimated at about 1.5 trillion dollars and a 2009 average net income of only about $5020 (US) per person there is still plenty of room for improvement in living conditions and equality, but the money doesn't seem to be available as yet. Happily, one area that has seen major improvements in recent years is infrastructure.
With successful implementation of safe drinking water initiatives and efforts made to provide adequate sanitation, now 94 percent of Jamaican residents have access to improved water sources and 83 percent to sanitary sewer connection for homes and business. This improvement still has a way to go, but has already drastically improved the general health of the population and considerably reduced the risk of exposure to water and fecal borne diseases. Roadways too have seen improvement, especially in tourist areas and along the coast, making travel much easier than in years past. The mountainous highlands still see difficulty due to terrain limitations and mudslides that are common in the summer months due to frequent hurricanes and tropical storms that plague the region.
Jamaica Health Care and Insurance
Another bright spot in Jamaica's resume is its attitude toward health care, offering its people coverage as far back as 1966, it was one of the most forward thinking governments in the world in this regard. The system now in implementation boasts 100 percent free health care to all permanent residents and is monitored and administered by the Ministry of Health. The system however, as noble as the idea is, has its drawbacks. Theoretically it is to provide all necessary health care to citizens and permanent residents free of charge, both for treatment and pharmaceuticals. The reality is, anything free is usually abused, Jamaica's health care system is no exception. Critics now feel that their fears will soon be realized when the high cost of providing all of this medical care out of the government's pocket will soon exhaust the funds available. Further, the government has very limited tax resources available through domestic wager earner's income and the sudden tacking on of large tariffs to tourist facilities such as hotels and restaurants will only serve to drive tourists away, thus damaging the overall economy. Already relying heavily on foreign funding, the solution will not be a simple one but reform is necessary if the system is to be saved. Conversely, private Jamaica health insurance is also available which is a good thing, especially for travelers, because Jamaica allows everyone to choose their health care providers but will only pay for public, government subsidized care and only for residents. Thus leaving those choosing private hospitals and clinics for their care to arrange payment personally. This is a viable option, but be aware that prices can fluctuate wildly and some are taken advantage of in their time of need by unscrupulous medical personnel.
Jamaican hospitals themselves are largely considered adequate for most types of treatment, but with limited funds, some specialized or very modern equipment is not available in the country and must be sought elsewhere, usually in the United States or Mexico. Currently there are over 20 hospitals in Jamaica, at least one in every parish, and everyone has access to their services. Some services and specialties available include surgery, OBGYN, internal medicine, birthing and nursery services, pediatrics, emergency services, diagnostics, and some medical research into diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy.
Public hospitals are usually more crowded due to the services being free, and private ones are usually easier to get in an out of with relative ease. Both offer all basic services through their network of partnership alliances, though it may require referral and occasionally travel to have some procedures made available to you. This is usually not overly inconvenient as the island is quiet small and almost all services are offered at more than one facility. As of July 2011 there are still no real arrangements for public/private service exchange, due to payment schedules and price variations, but the matter is being considered by the government and private health care facilitators and agreements are hopefully forthcoming. The doctor to population ration is 9.68 per 10,000 persons, or about 2,567 physicians total as of 2009 according to the Medical Council of Jamaica.
Jamaica Travel Insurance Concerns
A further concern is the “drug war” that is being waged within Jamaica's policy making circles. While illicit drugs are widely available in Jamaica, the bigger concern is regarding pharmaceuticals. For years, Jamaica has had almost no access to generic medications because major pharmaceutical companies have lobbied to keep them out and continually renew their patents in Jamaica on certain drugs to monopolize the industry and limit competition. The result is a higher than necessary price being paid for even common drugs, ironically mostly by the cash strapped government. Laws are being reviewed and it is the hope of many that this can be changed through thoughtful politics. The current problem is that, sometimes due to political red-tape and corporate greed and government corruption, some medicines are unavailable for extended periods of time. Some strong efforts are going to be required to raise Jamaica's health care system to a sustainable level.
With so much to see, do, and experience in Jamaica it is easy to relax and lose yourself in the island vibe. Travelers, tourists, and expatriates should be aware however that there is a risk of exposure to typhoid, hepatitis A and B, and on rare occasion malaria is found. It is wise to get these vaccines before traveling to Jamaica. Additionally, all travelers should up to date on all routine childhood and periodic vaccinations and booster rounds advised by western countries, since you may be denied entry without them as Jamaica has a great track record with regard to childhood immunization and does not want to risk infection of its populace. Other potential problems include sand fleas, stinging coral, sea urchins, sting-rays, and biting flies. All of these can be dealt with locally but should be prepared for in advance. The most common problems faced by tourists are typically related to over drinking, sunburn, heat exhaustion, scrapes and bruises due to falls, and diarrhea.
Jamaica Expat Health Insurance
Whenever planning a trip abroad, it is vital to take along any necessary medications and health equipment that you regularly use, but equally important is it to be prepared for the unknown. Regular health insurance companies will usually not honor care provided outside of the country they are sold or signed in and an international emergency can become your financial burden in this case. International health insurance policies have the ability to be used worldwide and are thus able to cover you anywhere you may go, including Jamaica. Expat health insurance may be good for expatriates staying abroad, however there are other policies that are also available that can offer protection for short trips abroad or evacuation or repatriation in the event of an emergency. Global Health Insurance has Insurance Experts who will guide you, free of charge, through the process of selecting a health care insurance package that offers the right amount of coverage for you, your family, or travel group when traveling to or staying in Jamaica. Expat health insurance provides numerous optional benefit packages to choose from, Global Health Insurance can help you find coverage for any age, budget, length of stay, itinerary, or location.