Learn about the Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats in Sri Lanka
The tropical nation of Sri Lanka is blessed with natural beauty from thick jungles to lush emerald islands. The exotic mixes beautifully with the rustic as well as the bustling metropolis. Home to several ancient cities, Sri Lanka, is reputed for its hospitality and friendliness. Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and the largest city, which is also a major port, is a vibrant mix of colonial and modern characteristics as well as land and water. Travelers flock to Colombo to explore its colonial past and enjoy its colorful heritage. But one of the major concerns for most travelers and expats moving to Sri Lanka is the condition of the healthcare system in the country. Here’s what you need to know about the Sri Lanka healthcare system and insurance options for expats.
Most people tend to worry about contracting infections and getting seriously ill. But the fact is that most travelers end up experiencing nothing more than an upset stomach. Yet, all expats can get themselves a comprehensive international health insurance coverage that covers them for all expenses at any private medical facility across Sri Lanka and beyond.
The CDC has more information on vaccinations for expats visiting Sri Lanka.
Overview of Healthcare in Sri Lanka
The standard of overall medical treatment in Sri Lanka is low as compared to that in developed nations. Public healthcare is almost completely free of charge, but patients do complain about long waiting periods and encountering serpentine queues.
Though hospitals and medical facilities in cities are well equipped and have enough medical professionals, emergency services are limited only to the capital city of Colombo. Citizens and expats prefer to be treated at private institutions. As compared to those in other nations, private medical facilities in Sri Lanka are not too expensive. It is one primary reason why Sri Lanka has seen a spurt in its medical tourism industry.
Medical care is readily available in cities, which also have a good number of English-speaking doctors. Sri Lankan doctors are well trained and experienced at handling medical emergencies, though the number of such professionals is low. Both locals and foreigners can avail facilities at public hospitals, but non-Sri Lankans have to pay for the medicines.
How the Sri Lankan Healthcare System Works for Expats
Expats need to safeguard themselves against specific health hazards. There are mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Malaria, and chikungunya fever. Expats should also be aware of infectious diseases like rabies, hepatitis, typhoid, and leptospirosis, as well as travelers’ diarrhea and amoebic dysentery.
It is a good practice for expats to ensure they are up to date with their vaccines before entering Sri Lanka. Also, they should try as much as possible to stay away from tap water, ice cubes, and consuming uncooked food. Expats should refrain from self-treatment or self-medication as much as possible. Some of the well-known private medical facilities in the country include Durdans Hospital, Asiri Central Hospital, Nawaloka Hospitals, Lanka Hospitals, and Oasis Hospital.
Public Healthcare System in Sri Lanka
Before moving to Sri Lanka, expats need to make sure they have taken all necessary medical precautions. Public healthcare is open to all expats free of cost, but they have to pay for the medicines. At times expats are even asked to make donations towards that specific care facility. But public hospitals have long waiting periods and common standards.
Private Healthcare System in Sri Lanka
Private medical facilities have better standards and quality than public ones. But rural private medical care centers lack standard facilities. The ancient medical system of Ayurveda is still in practice in Sri Lanka.
Pharmacies in Sri Lanka
Expats have to purchase all medicines, even if they avail of medical facilities in a public hospital where treatment is free. Prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs are readily available. Still, the buyer must ensure that the medication is adequately sealed and check the expiry date on the container or pill strip.
Emergency Services in Sri Lanka
Dial 110 for help and assistance, in case of a medical emergency. This number is operational in all the districts of Colombo, Galle, Kandy, and Jaffna. There are plans to provide this facility at a national level.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats Living in Sri Lanka
Purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan is a must for all expats. They should invest in one that covers medical emergencies as well as emergency evacuations. A difficult medical situation where local hospitals are unable to treat a patient could require evacuation to another country with better medical facilities. Also, medical insurance should cover facilities that are provided by private healthcare centers in Sri Lanka. An accident or a medical emergency can arise at any time. At such times, health insurance policy comes in handy.
Cigna Global and Allianz International are two of the most popular global insurance companies that currently offer international health insurance plans to expatriates residing in Sri Lanka. You can compare their plans before choosing the right one for you or contact us to learn more.