dominican republic healthcare system

Dominican Republic Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats

Just two hours’ flying distance away from the south of Miami lies the Dominican Republic. It is the second-largest and the most diverse Caribbean country, known for its hospitable people, breathtaking natural attractions, and intriguing culture. It is home to tourists, digital nomads, global citizens, and expats from across the globe. Here’s what you need to know about the Dominican Republic healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.

If you are planning to move to this country, one of your major concerns is likely to be the healthcare system. Anyone moving to the Dominican Republic must have adequate health insurance coverage. The healthcare in this country is expensive in specific tourist areas such as Sosua and Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. The country has excellent healthcare services, but only in some specific places. So, you need to take this fact into account.

Also, most hospitals require payment in cash before providing medical services. Therefore, Dominican residents, global citizens, and travelers go for international health insurance, which is a comprehensive and cost-effective option.

More details about global citizens’ health information in the Dominican Republic are available at the WHO Dominican Republic page.

Overview of Healthcare in the Dominican Republic

The quality of healthcare in the Dominican Republic differs in different parts of the country. Private hospitals have the latest medical equipment, well-trained staff, and high healthcare standards. On the other hand, public hospitals lack quality medical equipment and staff.

Another important point to note here is that general practitioners are rare. Thus, most patients visit an internist who can refer them to specialists.

The healthcare financing system operates on a three-tiered structure:

  1. People under the subsidized tier include the poor, disabled, and unemployed. They are eligible to receive funding from the Dominican state.
  2. The contributive tier includes healthcare financed by employers and workers.
  3. The contributive subsidized tier is financed by technical workers and self-employed people with wages exceeding the national average income.

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How Does the Dominican Republic Healthcare System Work for Expats?

Expats residing in the Dominican Republic are a part of the contributive subsidized tier. But just to be sure, you must cross-check with your employer which category you fall in. Before moving to the Dominican Republic, you must get all routine vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps, diphtheria, chickenpox, and polio. Also, every expat must get medical insurance for multiple reasons.

The quality of public healthcare is inferior. Besides, the prevalence of diseases like malaria makes access to private healthcare facilities crucial. Thus, global nomads and expats often choose international private healthcare policies to get quality medical care in times of emergency.

Public Healthcare System in the Dominican Republic

There are public hospitals operational in every large town in the country. Healthcare facilities are generally free and accessible, but medical services such as stitches, x-rays, and medication are expensive. Once admitted to any public hospital, the patients have to get their pillows, sheets, food, toilet paper, etc. Their family members look after them. In public hospitals, it’s unlikely to find the staff and medical professionals communicating in English.

The Dominican Republic has a system of health insurance known as Seguro Nacional de Salud (SENASA). Expatriates may need to explore private health insurance options to supplement public healthcare services.

Here are some key points regarding public healthcare in the Dominican Republic:

  • Public healthcare services are available to both residents and citizens of the Dominican Republic
  • Urban health services are superior to rural healthcare, but this is often the case in the region
  • Public hospitals and clinics may provide basic medications, but there are many meds that may not be available
  • Public clinic staff in the country will often only speak Spanish
  • The cost of public health services is low, but quality and accessibility are suspect
  • Locals will incur waiting lists and accessibility issues in the public system

Private Healthcare System in the Dominican Republic

Locals who do not want to visit public hospitals come to private clinics. In places frequented by tourists and expats, there are private clinics with standard patient care, intensive care units, and operation facilities. The staff and medical professionals in these hospitals communicate in English. Also, there are world-class hospitals located in major cities such as Santiago and Santo Domingo. These hospitals carry out major operations, including organ transplants and heart surgeries.

The private medical system for expatriates will provide the following 10 benefits:

  1. Higher quality care
  2. Shorter waiting periods
  3. English speaking staff
  4. Specialized services
  5. Expat friendly services
  6. More modern equipment
  7. A more extensive range of medications and services
  8. Wellness services
  9. Direct access to global medical providers
  10. Excellent surgical teams

Emergency Medical Services in the Dominican Republic

Over the last few years, the Dominican Republic has rolled out the 911 emergency system. These emergency services are available in Santo Domingo, east to Boca Chica, and west to San Cristobal. These services are also available in Puerto Plato and Santiago.

Medicines and Pharmacies

There are plenty of pharmacies all over the Dominican Republic. Most of these pharmacies have long opening hours and are well stocked with medicines such as painkillers, antibiotics, and drugs to treat the common cold, COVID-19 and the flu. The drugs that require prescriptions are narcotics. Some pharmacies prescribe medicines simply when a patient can tell them the problem they are facing. These also save the expenses of visiting a doctor. These pharmacies provide discounts only on purchasing medicines through cash (and no credit card payment).

Critical points for pharmacy and medications in the Dominican Republic are:

  • Medications are often quite inexpensive compared to the USA
  • Most pharmacies are open 24 hours
  • Most pharmacies have English-speaking staff
  • A wide range of over-the-counter medications

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in the Dominican Republic

Digital nomads, expatriates, and global citizens who are planning to move to the Dominican Republic must have an international health insurance policy that covers overseas medical evacuation in case of a health emergency. Cigna Global and IMG provide some of the leading health insurance policies for expats, and the Allianz plan can even cover many local nationals who need international coverage. They are readily accepted by public healthcare institutions and private hospitals in the Dominican Republic.

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