Belize Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats
A small country located in Central America, Belize shares its borders with Guatemala and Mexico along with the Caribbean Sea on the Eastern side. With a population of over 300,000, it is the only English-speaking country in Central America. The Belize healthcare system has been subjected to several reforms over the years. It focuses on improving the lives of the people by uplifting the standard of healthcare in the country.
The Ministry of Health in the country is collectively responsible for the healthcare sector. They are instrumental in creating significant reforms in the medical arena. The healthcare sector comprises both publicly and privately run healthcare facilities. These facilities are financed through public and local private health insurance schemes. The healthcare system in Belize provides all its citizens and residents free or low-cost healthcare services from publicly run healthcare providers.
For more information on vaccinations for Belize, visit the CDC.
Overview of Healthcare in Belize
There are only eight major public hospitals and around 60 public clinics in Belize. They remain underfunded, understaffed, and under-supplied. Despite the large population, Belize City offers the highest level of care.
The public hospitals and clinics provide very low-cost and almost free healthcare services to anyone who approaches them. But it often results in long waiting queues. A Belize Health Information System card (BHIS) is mandatory for anyone who seeks treatment in a public healthcare facility. This applies to citizens and expats alike.
How the Belize Healthcare System Works for Expats?
As an expat, you are liable to pay for all medical costs incurred for healthcare services at public or privately-run facilities. The standard of healthcare across the country is low. However, private healthcare providers in Belize City cater to expats and global citizens. The private healthcare facilities in Belize continue to remain expensive. Medical procedures continue to remain limited. We recommend expats, digital nomads, and global citizens to opt for comprehensive international health insurance before arriving in Belize. The policy should also include repatriation costs and the cost of air ambulance services.
Public Healthcare in Belize
The Ministry of Health manages the public healthcare sector in Belize. They’re also responsible for subsidizing medications, vaccinations, and emergency surgeries. However, patients bear the fee for diagnoses, such as laboratory tests and x-rays. On the other hand, there’s a limit in medical provisions. Hence, patients must travel to the neighboring country to seek treatment.
Private Healthcare in Belize
The private health sector of the country has grown over the last few years, especially in urban areas. Although the costs are high, the coverage is comprehensive. It also offers a range of secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. Additionally, the acquisition of international private health insurance has increased recently.
Emergency Medical Services in Belize
There is also a shortage of medical professionals in Belize. A large section of doctors and medical professionals are foreign nationals working in the Belizean health sector. They often work as volunteers. The shortage of medical supplies and medical equipment hinders the delivery of quality health services. This shortage is especially evident in rural areas. Emergency services are limited to the urban towns and cities, with little or no ambulances in remote areas.
Medicines and Pharmacies in Belize
Foreign nationals should see a doctor before going to Belize and ensure that their vaccinations are up to date. As an expat, you should protect yourself from potential diseases while in Belize. You must prevent yourself from contracting diseases such as malaria, which is quite common in Belize.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Belize
Many international companies offer private expat health insurance plans at competitive rates. Public and private healthcare must be supplemented with an international health insurance cover that provides medical airlifting and overseas evacuation. Check out the most popular international insurance plans offered by renowned companies like Cigna Global and Allianz International. The healthcare institutions of Belize mostly recognize them.