cuba healthcare system

Learn about the Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Cuba

Cuba’s rich history and culture make it an exciting place for expats. Though Cuba is a favorite tourist destination for many across the globe, people find traveling to the country difficult due to many travel restrictions imposed by the Communist government. Thus, the expatriate population in Cuba is much lower than that in the surrounding states. Here’s what you need to know about Cuba’s healthcare system and insurance options for expats.

The healthcare system in Cuba is a source of pride for its communist government. There is, in fact, an extensive public healthcare system that all Cuban residents and citizens can easily access. Cuba has a minimal budget when it comes to healthcare, but the country ensures that preventive health measures are put in place. Since 2010, under Cuban law, expats must obtain health insurance, which will remain valid for their entire stay in Cuba. Therefore, expats usually consider having international health insurance, which is both cost-effective and comprehensive.

The CDC has more information on vaccinations to get before traveling to Cuba.

Overview of Healthcare in Cuba

The Cuban healthcare system gives free medical care to all Cuban citizens. However, multiple problems are existing in the Cuban healthcare system. The infrastructure of hospitals needs a lot of work as the buildings are rundown. Medical professionals also face constant challenges due to the lack of essential medicines and old medical devices.

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How the Cuban Healthcare System Works for Expats

Expatriates in Cuba must purchase medical insurance. Furthermore, expats can’t leave the island if they have any outstanding medical bills. On the other hand, if you arrive on the island without medical insurance, you can purchase it on arrival at the port of entry. Also, no hospital accepts foreign debit or credit cards. Thus, it’s essential to have sufficient cash to pay for medical expenses.

Public Healthcare in Cuba

If you find yourself in need of medical assistance, it’s essential to know that the government runs the entire healthcare system. There are a few specialty clinics that specifically cater to the medical requirements of diplomats. Expats and tourists have access to professional doctors and high-end equipment. Some of the Cuban resorts have international clinics, mostly in Santa Lucia, Varadero, and Havana. When in Havana, expats are usually sent to Cira Garcia hospital, which is better known as a ‘tourist’ hospital.

Private Healthcare in Cuba

Cuba’s healthcare system has transformed as a result of the 1959 revolution by Fidel Castro. Earlier, there was a dual private-public healthcare system. Now, there is a national healthcare system in place, and no private hospitals and clinics.

Emergency Medical Services in Cuba

When in Cuba, you can dial 106 for all medical emergencies. Some Cuban hospitals provide free emergency medical treatment to foreigners. In case you are suffering from a life-threatening condition, you may get evacuated to a nearby country where medical facilities are easily accessible. As emergency medical services are expensive, make sure you have insurance to cover all the costs.

Medicines and Pharmacies

Medical care in Cuba is not at par with the standards of that in other developed countries. The country faces a shortage of medical supplies. As medications are not readily available, travelers should bring their prescribed medicines along with them. Preventive, diagnostic tests, and medical care are free, but Cubans need to pay for outpatient drugs. Apart from government-run pharmacies, there are other pharmacies dedicated to international travelers.

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Cuba

Tourists, travelers, and expats, who wish to shift base to Cuba, are obligated to get a comprehensive international health insurance policy that covers transportation and medical evacuation in case of an emergency. Out of the multiple insurance plans across the globe, those offered by Allianz International are accepted by healthcare institutions in Cuba.


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