Learn About Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Mongolia
Famous for its beautiful terrains, nomadic culture, and horse-riding, Mongolia is the world’s second-largest landlocked country. Russia surrounds it on the north and China on the south. Mongolia has a predominantly Buddhist population. Thus influences of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the former Soviet Union are evident here. Expats love traveling to this cultural hotspot. Here’s what you need to know about the Mongolia healthcare system and insurance options for expats.
Quality healthcare services are a must to tend to such a huge count of visitors. Hence once in Mongolia, we strongly recommend you carry your physician’s signed and dated letter. It should also clearly detail your medical condition or case history. You must bring your medicines in their original, clearly labeled containers. You are unlikely to find Western medicine in Mongolia, as most medications come from Russia and China. It is also not labeled in English. Therefore, it’s always advisable to carry from home an extra stock of all your prescribed medicines. Furthermore, visit your doctor a month before departure. The CDC has information on vaccinations that you should get before traveling to Mongolia.
Overview of Healthcare System in Mongolia
The healthcare system of Mongolia is centrally administered. The prime minister and the Ministry of Health are responsible for developing healthcare policies and implementing strategies. The World Health Organization has played a crucial role in developing the country’s healthcare system in the past 40 years. Infant mortality rates have gone down over the years.
The government budget accounts for 62.1% of health sector financing, followed by health insurance (over 24.9%), user fees (3.2%), and other sources (9.8%).
The health sector employs about 30,000 people. With that, Mongolia has over 4,000 healthcare facilities across the country. There are 91 public hospitals, over 240 inpatient private hospitals, and 1,226 outpatient clinics.
How the Mongolian Healthcare System Works for Expats
From a socialist-era health system under government control and lacking professional medical staff, Mongolia is slowly moving to a more Western healthcare model. Mongolia’s healthcare sector provides for public and private pharmacies, hospitals, and medical equipment. Although there are mutual efforts in ensuring healthcare facilities are available for expats throughout the country, only major cities have most of the hospitals and clinics.
The Mongolian government has made it mandatory that all its citizens get free access to primary healthcare (PHC). The availability of PHC services within health facilities is low. Family health centers are primarily responsible for providing PHCs, but what prevents the latter from becoming fully functional is the lack of diagnostic equipment and essential medicines.
We advise expats planning to move to Mongolia to get their vaccination against Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Typhoid. They must buy international health insurance before landing in Mongolia because otherwise, the cost of overseas evacuation transportation to South Korea, China, or any other neighboring region, in case of a medical emergency, may become unaffordable.
Public Healthcare in Mongolia
The Mongolian government provides public healthcare to expats through 3 levels of service: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
- Primary: At the primary level, one can find family group practices, mainly in urban areas. At this level, the government provides a free and basic package of services for rural and urban residents.
- Secondary: Most facilities providing for the rural population fall in the secondary level, which consist mainly of district hospitals. While such health centers are enormous, they may not be able to carry out complex medical procedures due to a lack of equipment. The government covers 90% of the expenses involved here.
- Tertiary: All the major hospitals and specialized facilities, ranging from centers for cancer treatment, maternity care, psychiatric care, infectious diseases, etc., fall under the tertiary level. These facilities are mainly based in Ulaanbaatar. Although better off than the services offered at primary and secondary levels, the level of tertiary care services in Mongolia is way behind the standards of healthcare services in the West. Make sure that your medical insurance covers international emergency evacuation. Patients with serious illnesses or injuries may have to travel to Seoul or Beijing.
Private Healthcare in Mongolia
There are over 450 private hospitals across the country. Tourists and expats can access all these facilities, but they usually have to pay in cash upfront to avail them. Expats mostly prefer private hospitals because of their top-notch services and English-speaking staff. Two famous private hospitals that you could opt for are Intermed Hospital and Songdo Hospital, both in Ulaanbaatar.
Emergency Medical Services in Mongolia
While the state of healthcare is good in Mongolia, you’re only likely to find excellent services in the capital Ulaanbaatar and other urban areas. Owing to bad roads or none at all in several regions of the country, many citizens, especially in rural areas, have to travel long distances to undergo treatment.
In case of emergencies, the following are emergency contact numbers in Mongolia:
- Ambulance: 103
- Directory Assistance: 109
- Police: 102
Medicines and Pharmacies
There are several pharmacies in Mongolia, but expats still prefer to get their treatment abroad. According to estimates, more than 80,000 Mongolian patients spend around $140 million on overseas medical treatment annually. China and South Korea are the two most visited countries for medical consultation.
Mongolia relies on imported drugs, which account for 80% of those in the market. In 2016, Mongolia imported drugs worth $106 million, with more than 50% of the stock coming from Russia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, India, and China. But the country has become alert to the risk of fake drugs. It accounts for about 60% of medicines sold in the market.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Mongolia
All travelers and expats keen to visit or relocate to Mongolia should buy a comprehensive international health insurance policy that covers medical evacuation to another country in case of an emergency. Cigna Global and Allianz International provide some of the topmost international insurance plans that are accepted by most of Mongolia’s public healthcare institutions and private hospitals.