Algeria Medical Insurance
Algeria is a North African nation which won a war for independence from French colonial rule in the year 1962. It is the second largest country in Africa with a land size of almost 2.4 million square kilometers. Algeria has an estimated population of 35.4 million people. Over 80% of the country is covered by the Sahara desert, with much of the populace residing in the northern coastal areas alongside the Mediterranean Sea. 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. In the 1990’s Algerian politics were marred by armed conflict between the national military and Islamist militants. In 1992 a general election won by the Islamic Salvation Front was annulled, provoking a bloody civil war that resulted in many casualties. An amnesty was negotiated in 1999 which has pacified the region, but issues of widespread poverty and rampant youth unemployment have lead to heightened political dissatisfaction and threaten stability. Protests have broken out recently in January 2011 over food prices and unemployment.
With independence from France in 1962, Algeria inherited an insufficient health care system with large disparities in the quality of service, which were concentrated solely in the large northern cities (Algiers, Oran, Annaba). Between the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Algerian government implemented a series of measures to extend public welfare programs. The decision to provide public sector health care for free was made in 1974.
The principal health problems in Algeria have been tuberculosis, typhoid fever, malaria, trachoma, dysentery and malnutrition often brought about by inadequate sanitation facilities and a scarcity of safe drinking water is many areas. Because of the relatively young population and these medical concerns, the health system prioritizes preventative treatment and maintains a comprehensive vaccination program. Algeria has made significant progress with regard to health care in recent years, with health indicators showing improvement. Life expectancy has risen to 74.9 years of age for women and 72.9 for men, which is higher than many other middle-income countries. Take note that while the healthcare system is indeed better, and more of the population is healthier, compared to 20 or 40 years ago, Algeria’s medical statistics still fall below international standards and there remain many areas in need of improvement.
The Algerian constitution guarantees all citizens the right to access health care, and financial coverage for public medical services within the country is provided by the government. However, more remote areas do not have adequate access to health care facilities and the quality of service provided by the public system is still below internationally accepted standards. Algeria’s health care industry is short staffed and lacks health care specialists for certain diseases. Patients may need to be transferred abroad for treatment. The private health care sector has developed quickly to help fill gaps in the public system and create opportunities for foreign investment. However, access to private medical care remains very limited as their services are not covered by a public health insurance plan and few Algerians can afford out-of-pocket payments for their own medical treatment. To combat these operational inequalities and boost health care standards, the Algerian government is dedicating an increasing amount of resources to the health care sector to develop new facilities, procure new medical equipment and improve hospital capacity.
The Ministry of Health is responsible for managing and regulating the public health care system. However, several other ministries are also technically involved and that complicates the decision-making process. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is responsible for the national Algeria health insurance program. Relations between these two ministries are strained due to division over sharing operational expense for public health facilities. Furthermore the Ministry of Education governs all physicians training so overall health policy becomes convoluted. Efficiency within the public health care system is further hindered by administrative bureaucracy as hospital managers have limited autonomy, and must obtain central approval for many decisions.
There are two national Algeria medical insurance schemes within the country. Citizens 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. Around 73% of the populace is insured through CNAS. Both funds cover health care provided through state-run facilities or the transfer abroad program, though insurance agreements can be made between CNAS and private treatment centers. Patients looking to the private system will pay large out-of-pocket fees and enjoy quality of service that only few can afford. A private health insurance system does not yet exist with Algeria, but expatriates are able to purchase an international health insurance policy which will offer comprehensive medical coverage for the duration of their time in the country.
Algeria is divided into 185 health districts that are each charged with addressing the health care needs of the residents within their jurisdictions. Each district should 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. Through 2009, Algeria had a ratio of 1.2 physicians and 1.77 hospital beds per 1000 people, one of the lowest among countries of comparable income. The southern and high plateaus regions of Algeria 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 medical facilities are becoming prominent in Algeria. Today there are over 250 private clinics operating, with many more planned. Private health care originally complimented the public 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 in certain pathologies, many private clinics employ foreign surgeons.
Those traveling to Algeria are strongly advised to purchase a comprehensive global health insurance plan that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. The standard of medical care varies in Algeria. Private medical facilities, especially in the capital, Algiers, are generally better equipped than public facilities and will meet normal international accreditation standards. Treatment at these private clinics could prove costly. Medical facilities in remote areas, including mountainous and desert regions, can be sparse or non-existent. Prescription medicines are not always readily available. Doctors and hospitals will expect an immediate cash payment for their services. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities. Emergency services in large cities are satisfactory, but response time is often unpredictable.
Pacific Prime will consult and offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs should you plan to travel to Algeria. We offer a wide variety of health care plans with possible benefit packages including dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many more. Please contact our professional advisors today for a free quote and enjoy the security that our extensive Health Insurance Plans can provide.