Learn About the Guatemala Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats
Guatemala is an off-beat tourist destination oozing with incredible natural sites, active volcanoes, and unique wildlife. The country is home to impressive Mayan ruins and has ancient colonial towns. As compared to other Central American countries, Guatemala is not well-developed, but it does offer an unrivaled experience to adventure seekers, global citizens, expats, and digital nomads. Here’s what you need to know about the Guatemala healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.
Currently, the country does not have world-class health establishments. The healthcare system needs a lot of upliftment in terms of medical equipment, infrastructure, and maintenance of hygiene. As compared to the other Western counterparts, the cost of healthcare in the country is reasonable. That’s the reason why people often opt to pay upfront for services and medical care. Global citizens and expats often prefer to purchase comprehensive international health insurance for optimum coverage. It saves them from the worry of paying upfront for medical care and assists them in availing various treatments at private hospitals.
Overview of Healthcare in Guatemala
Guatemala’s healthcare system consists of three divisions: public healthcare, private healthcare institutions, and the non-profit sector.
Public healthcare institutions are largely underfunded. Hence, there is a low supply of basic medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and medical professionals. In the towns and cities, the services of the doctors and medical professionals are easily available. However, most of the healthcare services are limited in rural areas. In villages with no doctor or nurses, the community health workers usually take up the responsibility of treating patients.
On the contrary, the private healthcare sector is more reliable. Advanced medical facilities, equipment, availability of medicines, and trained doctors make private healthcare the preferred choice for expats. The medical staff in most private hospitals are usually bilingual. They can conveniently speak in English and Spanish.
How the Guatemala Healthcare System Works for Expats
As an expat, you may get the desired healthcare services in public hospitals. For quality healthcare, you have the option to choose from an array of private facilities dotting the major cities and towns of Guatemala. Purchasing an international health insurance plan cuts the waiting time at public hospitals. Scrambling around for a hospital or a medical professional at the time of need can be very scary. Many expats are comfortable scheduling trips back to their native places to see their doctors, refill their prescriptions, or get a check-up. However, it is always prudent to plan for medical emergencies in advance.
Public Healthcare in Guatemala
Although the public healthcare system in the country has a long-standing institutional history, the system has a lot of shortcomings. There is a clear disparity between the delivery of healthcare in urban and rural areas. Moreover, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare runs public hospitals in the country. These hospitals provide free care to the citizens, permanent residents, and even tourists who need immediate medical care. Due to the underfunding, there is often a shortage of medical equipment, drugs, and trained staff.
Private Healthcare in Guatemala
With an English and Spanish speaking staff, private healthcare facilities enjoy the reputation of being reliable medical caregivers. Citizens, residents, and expats can rely on the private sector even though they must make upfront payments. But this kind of medical coverage is only available in private hospitals in urban areas. Furthermore, private healthcare hardly exists in rural areas. The small healthcare centers there generally focus on prevention rather than treatment.
Emergency Medical Services in Guatemala
In the event of a medical emergency, dial 112 from any landline number to call an ambulance.
Medicines and Pharmacies
Many established pharmaceutical brands are not available in Guatemala. If you take any drug regularly, it is advisable to find out the generic equivalents before you arrive in the country. However, expats can buy most drugs over the counter. They are usually cheaper than what they would cost in the UK or the USA.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Guatemala
Most international companies offer comprehensive health insurance plans at competitive rates. Private medical treatment must be supplemented with an international health insurance cover that provides medical airlifting and overseas evacuation during a medical emergency. Opt for a popular expat health insurance plan offered by Cigna Global and make your stay in this country a pleasant experience. Most of these insurance plans are recognized and accepted by the medical institutions of Guatemala.