15 Expats Talk about Health Insurance and Healthcare in Jamaica
Last updated on Feb 01, 2023
Summary: The quality of medical care in Jamaica is generally considered to be good, although it is not as advanced as the medical care available in the United States. Emergency services are available in Jamaica, and ambulances can be called by dialing the local emergency number, which is 110. The response time for ambulances can vary depending on the location, but they are generally reliable and well-equipped.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Jamaica?
"There are doctors that will see patients on an ad hoc basis without medical insurance. I’ve been here for four months now - extended leisure visit - and I see a great doctor in Kingston. Each visit is 4K JMD a pop. He will provide prescriptions, and if needed, make referrals to specialist services. However I would say that you should seriously consider medical insurance as you would in the USA. Medication etc is not cheap and if you need specialist treatment costs can be high (though lower than in the States in most cases) but as an instance I’ve just had to pay 80k JMD for an MRI scan. I could have waited until I return to the UK and have it done for free there but the advantage of paying for it privately here meant that I could have it done and obtain results within days rather than the weeks or months I’d have to wait on the NHS. Medical insurance would definitely have been cheaper! If you are relocating for work then your employer should provide medical insurance for yourself and any accompanying family members. Definitely if you have young children or pre-existing illness then ensure you have insurance. I’m a diabetic and the cost of insulin is pretty eyewatering. But as I said you can just find a physician and go see her/hum as you need to. They will keep a medical record with med history, meds, etc," commented one expat living in Kingston, Jamaica.
"Ensure that you have insurance and don't take an unregulated taxi as it might not be insured. I was unfortunate to be in a pretty serious car crash here and it would have involved been horrendous health care costs without insurance," added another expat.
As a foreigner living in Jamaica, will I have access to public healthcare? What is it like?
"You should have concerns and you should research insurance. As long as you have immigration status in JA, you can purchase health insurance… just plan on using private doctors, clinics and hospitals. Private care isn’t cheap so make sure you have access to credit card or cash..they require payment up front. In the last 10 years or so, the private sector for healthcare has exploded… you have more options, costly, but they’re there. Public health care here in Jamaica is quite frankly a joke… The clinics, the hospitals, the doctors… Go private," remarked another expat in Montego Bay.
What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Jamaica?
We asked expat moms who gave birth in Jamaica about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:
"Ensure to register your baby's birth with the Jamaican Registrar General's Department to receive a birth certificate. Check with your local Jamaican hospital for the policies and procedures around prenatal care, delivery and newborn care. Talk to local moms to find out useful tips and advice on being pregnant and having a baby in Jamaica. Take a look at the medical insurance options available and well as the health care providers. Consider looking into the local child-rearing customs and methods so that your baby’s upbringing will be a true amalgam of both cultures. Additionally, research babysitting services, schools, and other childcare options that may be available through the Jamaican community," said another expat in Jamaica.
Are healthcare services good in Jamaica?
We asked people if they have access to good medical care in Jamaica. They wrote:
"Healthcare services in Jamaica are provided through a comprehensive national health system with a vast network of public health facilities. The public health system is categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary services. At the primary level, public sector facilities are often staffed by general practitioners and nurses providing preventive care and treatment for a wide range of common acute and chronic health problems. Secondary and tertiary services include advanced diagnosis, specialized outpatient, and inpatient care. Private health services are mainly provided through private hospitals and clinics, with the majority of resources devoted to primary and secondary care. Jamaica also has an active system of home health and community care services, with a large network of non-governmental organizations providing community based health and social services," said another person in Jamaica.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
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