Jamaica healthcare system

Jamaica Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats

Jamaica does not have highly sophisticated healthcare and hospital infrastructure, but it is a beautiful country with a vibrant culture, beautiful beaches and a welcoming and friendly local population. The country’s government is making efforts to provide healthcare for the citizens. Only the capital city of Kingston offers comprehensive medical care. The island has numerous clinics and hospitals. However, the majority of them are inadequate in terms of quality. Here’s what you need to know about the Jamaican healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.

Expats can certainly avail services of private medical facilities. Nevertheless, there may be cases of emergency health conditions or prolonged sicknesses. For treatment, they may have to travel outside the country. Hence, buying international health insurance will help expats during a medical emergency.

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Overview of Healthcare in Jamaica

In the past, the country followed a primary organizational pattern for its medical facilities. The model was dependent highly on the nursing staff. The government sector, i.e., the Ministry of Health (MOH), laid the foundation for this system. A loosely regulated private sector accompanied this state-sponsored system. The country imports most of its drugs, healthcare supplies, and medical equipment. Additionally, only a few companies in Jamaica manufacture medical provisions.

The public sector has been derived from the British National Health Service model. It regards health as a public benefit and offers affordable healthcare. On the other hand, the private health insurance model provides insurance to around 10% of the public.

Numerous bilateral and multilateral institutions have been involved in the medical sector. IDB, PAHO/WHO, and other UN bodies assist several programs to fight against poverty and diseases.

How the Healthcare System Works for Expats

The framework of the Jamaican healthcare system has a few challenges. This has had an impact on the accessibility and state of the institutions. Based on your place of stay in Jamaica, you may not be able to obtain adequate healthcare facilities.

There is at least one small hospital in every area of the island. Despite that, for advanced emergency care, you must travel to cities like Kingston and Montego Bay. Emergency services are only available in big towns and cities. These services lack both quality and quantity due to which patients have to travel out of Jamaica for emergency medical care.

On the whole, the island has approximately thirty hospitals and clinics. The Ministry of Health website is the best place to get information on the hospital that is nearest to your location. You can see a map of hospital locations along with their contact information. 

Public Healthcare

Jamaica has around 30 to 40 hospitals and clinics. Most of them fall under the public sector. These hospitals offer services to its citizens and residents, at no cost. There is a considerable difference in the quality of service that each of them provides.

The majority of government hospitals have more number of patients they can handle. The funds they get from the Jamaican government are insufficient. There is also a shortage of skilled personnel. These are some of the reasons both locals and expats prefer to seek treatment through the private healthcare system in Jamaica.

Private Healthcare

Jamaica’s private healthcare institutions come in the form of a second choice. It provides quality medical care in a more conducive setting. Nonetheless, the treatment here is expensive.

Thus, international citizens living in Jamaica, who can afford treatment in private hospitals, prefer this option.  A major part of the local community cannot afford private healthcare and health insurance on their own. This is one of the main reasons for public hospitals often getting overcrowded.

Emergency Medical Services

To call an ambulance in Jamaica, you need to dial 110. You can dial this number from any phone, and it will link you to the fire department’s primary dispatch in Kingston. As soon as the dispatcher confirms your location, they will transfer your call to the fire station and ambulance station that is closest to your location. 

Medicines and Pharmacies

Jamaica has switched over to electronic dispensing of prescriptions. The National Health Fund has set up a Pharmacy Information Management System in its Drug Serving pharmacies. This system also works at several public hospitals throughout the country.

Here is a one-stop link that gives you a list and details of 27×7 pharmacies all over Jamaica. 

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Jamaica

The Jamaica healthcare system may not be of the same quality that you get in your home country. This applies to both public and private institutions. It is important to understand that the island nation has no treatment for quite a few chronic medical problems. Therefore, in a crisis medical condition, evacuation may be the only option. You may be evacuated to a neighboring country with adequate medical care – this may include Miami in the United States, so you may want a global health plan that includes treatment in the USA.

As an expat, you will need a comprehensive health cover during your stay in Jamaica. There are many affordable options from leading international insurance companies like Cigna Global. You must have an international health insurance plan before you relocate here. This gives you easy access to all private hospitals and clinics on the island.

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