Paraguay Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats
Paraguay is home to large swaths of swampland and subtropical forest. Plus, it also has a wilderness comprising of savanna and scrubland. This country is landlocked between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. The healthcare system in the country is highly fragmented, and it is difficult to find similar level facilities in hospitals in cities and rural areas. Per capita expenditure on healthcare in Paraguay is very little, as much as US$13−20 per year. The good thing is the country is free of many tropical endemics such as typhoid fever. The country has made great efforts to improve the capacity of its primary healthcare system with the help of international aid and assistance. Here’s what you need to know about the Paraguay healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.
Overview of Healthcare in Paraguay
The Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MPHSW) manages the coordination of all public and private healthcare activities. Social Insurance Institute, the Military Health Service, and the Clinical Hospital of the National University are other institutions that support the government healthcare structure. Intermediate-level health services are available in towns, and specific health services are available in big cities.
Paraguay’s healthcare system is severely understaffed, with just 11.1 doctors per 10,000 citizens. The ratio of nursing staff per 10,000 population is a mere 17.9. If you fall sick or suffer an accident, the emergency care facility in local government hospitals is not reliable. You will have to move to private hospitals for quality care. The facilities there are better though they are more expensive.
Inadequate spending on healthcare is the primary reason for this unsatisfactory status of the public health system in Paraguay. Only five percent of the total budget is spent on health, which is just 2.8 percent of the GDP. In addition, for the country to provide adequate health coverage for citizens, the expenditure will need to increase to four to five percent.
How the Paraguayan Healthcare System Works for Expats?
Though there is state-funded healthcare available in the country, expatriates usually opt for private hospitals. In the case of severe healthcare issues, expats prefer going to Brazil and other nearby countries. Therefore, your family should have sufficient insurance cover to meet any unforeseen medical expenses.
On the other hand, it is vital to visit your doctor before traveling to another country. The CDC has information on vaccinations for expats moving to Paraguay.
Public Healthcare in Paraguay
The Ministry and the IPS cover 95 percent of healthcare infrastructure in the country. The public subsector in Paraguay primarily caters to the primary healthcare needs of citizens. Apart from this, MPHSW, the National University of Asunción, and municipalities provide healthcare facilities. The MPHSW is also responsible for maintaining healthcare in the area of treatment, prevention, and promotion. The public healthcare sector has more than 1000 hospitals and specialized healthcare centers.
Private Healthcare in Paraguay
The private sector healthcare in Paraguay is much better than the state healthcare. It comprises hospitals, sanatoriums, clinics, private physicians’ offices, medicine production laboratories, pharmacies, and other private health services. The best quality of private healthcare is available near Asuncion, the capital city. If you reside in far-flung areas, you will need to commute to urban centers for adequate medical care.
Emergency Medical Services in Paraguay
In Paraguay, public ambulance services are scarce in the country, and it is only available in big cities and towns. In remote rural areas, getting an ambulance is tough. People mainly depend on their vehicles to reach hospitals. You can dial 141 to access ambulance services.
Medicines and Pharmacies
When traveling to Paraguay, it’s best to carry your prescription medication with you. Though, mostly all medications are available at the pharmacies, either by their recognized names or an acceptable substitute. A lot of drugs can be bought over the counter in Paraguay, and that includes antibiotics and blood pressure medications.
Another plus is that if required, a registered pharmacist can make a house call. It is an advantage for patients who may require shots for some specific medical needs.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Paraguay
Digital nomads, global citizens, and expats should always ensure they have proper coverage when traveling to another country. Since the cost of private healthcare is expensive in Paraguay, expats should purchase appropriate insurance cover to meet their medical needs. Local insurers may not offer good quality health cover. It makes it more critical for expats to buy comprehensive international health insurance plans for themselves and their families. Companies with expat employees in Paraguay should also do the same.
Additionally, you need to choose the right Emergency Evacuation Plan to meet the requirements of overseas medical treatment. These insurance plans are available only on request.