Health Insurance in Algeria
If you are living in or traveling to Algeria, you’ll want to understand its healthcare system. Namely, you’ll want to know how to access health services, whether you should get health insurance, and any other useful tips. As such, this guide provides everything you need to know in one place, complete with information on securing health insurance in Algeria. Read on to learn more, or click below for a free quote!
The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa - bordered by Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, the Western Saharan territory, Morocco, and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second-largest country in Africa with a land size of almost 2.4 million square kilometers. However, over 80% of the country is covered by the Sahara desert, with much of its 43.6 million population residing in the northern coastal areas.
The former French colony won its independence in 1962, but saw armed conflict between the national military and Islamist militants in the 1990s. An amnesty was negotiated in 1999, which has since pacified the region, but issues of widespread poverty and rampant youth unemployment have led to heightened political dissatisfaction and threatened stability in the country.
When it comes to economic matters, the Algerian economy is fueled by its state-run industrial sector, in particular the extraction of its natural resources, including oil, and is in possession of the eighth largest natural gas reserves in the world. It also has the highest human development index of all non-island African countries. In terms of healthcare matters, there is free public healthcare.
Healthcare system in Algeria
Upon independence from France, Algeria inherited an insufficient healthcare system, plagued with disparities in the quality of service, concentrated solely in the capital city Algiers, and other large northern cities like Oran and Annaba. Between the 1970s and 1980s, the government extended public welfare programs, such as making public healthcare free in 1974. Apart from public healthcare, the country is also home to a private healthcare sector.
Public healthcare sector
Algeria’s Ministry of Health is responsible for managing and regulating the public healthcare sector. However, several other ministries are also technically involved, which complicates the decision-making process and overall health policy. For instance, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security is responsible for the national Algeria health insurance schemes, while the Ministry of Education governs all physician training.
National Health Insurance
Citizens in Algeria are either insured by the Caisse Nationale de la Securite Sociale des Travailleurs Salaries (CNAS), which covers salaried employees and their dependents, or a separate plan that covers independent workers and their dependents. Both funds cover healthcare provided through state-run facilities or the transfer abroad program, though insurance agreements can be made in some cases between CNAS and private treatment centers.
Access to public healthcare providers
Algeria is divided into 185 health districts that are each tasked with addressing the healthcare needs of the residents within their jurisdictions. Each district aims to include at least one general hospital and several polyclinics, health centers and treatment rooms, which administer primary and secondary care. However, not all of these facilities have hospital beds and some can only provide the most basic of medical services.
Quality of care
While the Algerian constitution guarantees all citizens the right to access healthcare, and financial coverage for public medical services within the country is provided by the government, the quality of care is below internationally accepted standards. It is short-staffed and lacks specialists. Efficiency within the system is also hindered by administrative bureaucracy as hospital managers have limited autonomy, and must obtain central approval for many decisions.
There are also disparities in quality of care:
- Remote areas in Algeria do not have adequate access to healthcare facilities.
- The southern and high plateaus regions of the country are the worst affected by inadequate medical infrastructure and suffer from staff, drug, and equipment scarcity.
- Hospital occupancy rates in these regions are low, while maternal and child mortality rates remain high.
Private healthcare sector
Originally, private healthcare in Algeria complimented the public healthcare sector but they are now diversifying their operations and including services not provided by the state system, such as cardiology. Similar to the public system, most private facilities are concentrated in the northern coastal cities. Due to the insufficient amount of available medical professionals, many private clinics employ foreign medical staff.
Private health insurance
There is no existing private health insurance scheme within Algeria. To avoid out-of-pocket payments, expats are advised to arrange for international health insurance before arriving in the country, especially if they will be stationed in remote areas of the country. It is important to ensure that the health insurance plan includes medical evacuation to the expat’s home country or a country with better health facilities.
Access to private healthcare providers
Private medical facilities are becoming prominent in Algeria. Today, there are over 250 private clinics operating, with many more planned. However, access to private medical care remains very limited as their services are typically not covered by the public health insurance plan and few Algerians can afford out-of-pocket payments for medical treatment in the private healthcare sector.
Quality of care
Given the poor quality of healthcare in the Algerian public healthcare sector, the private sector has developed to help fill the gaps. While the majority of medical staff working in the public sector will speak French, with very little fluency in English, medical staff in the private sector are more likely to be able to communicate in English.
Algeria Travel Advice
If you’re making a trip to Algeria, you should bear in mind the following. In case of health emergencies whilst you’re out there, it’s also a good idea to have a good travel insurance plan.
Extreme heat: Due to the extreme heat in parts of the country, heatstroke and dehydration are major health risks for travelers. It’s advisable to stay well-hydrated at all times. However, note that bottled water is recommended, as tap water isn’t safe to drink in Algeria.
Sand and dust storm: For travelers suffering from pre-existing respiratory conditions, sand and dust storms in Algeria may also pose a risk. Depending on how severe your condition is, it’s best to speak to a medical practitioner about this.
Medicine: While pharmacies are available in Algeria, it may be difficult to get certain medicine, especially beyond Algiers. If you have a medical condition, it may be worth bringing the medicines with you, as well as a French translation of all the medical documents, in case it’s required at customs.
Emergency: In the event of an emergency, travelers should dial 112. However, operators may only speak French, which can result in a language barrier. Moreover, emergency response time may also be slow, particularly in the more remote areas.
Please note that the information on this page is not fully comprehensive and is subject to change without prior warning. It is advisable to consult with a local Algerian embassy should you have any doubts before you depart on your journey.
Private health insurance for expats in Algeria
It’s a good idea to secure a comprehensive private health insurance plan in Algeria, so that you can avoid out-of-pocket payments in the private sector, which provides a better quality of care than its public counterpart. This is especially imperative if you will be based in remote areas, including mountainous and desert regions, where medical facilities can be sparse.
Looking for private health insurance? Working with the top insurers, Pacific Prime offers vetted expat health insurance plans to foreign nationals in Algeria. If you prefer it, we can also provide Algerian health insurance plans with no deductibles or excesses, as well as plans with a range of added benefits like outpatient treatment, dental, vision, maternity, and more.
To learn more about your health insurance options in Algeria, get in touch with us for a no-obligation quote and insurance consultation!