Belize Medical Insurance
Belize is located in the Northern hemisphere above the equator. It is a small country in Central America, bordered on the North by Mexico, the South and West by Guatemala, and to the East by the Caribbean Sea. It has an area of approximately 23,000 square kilometers. The capital, Belmopan, is located in the center of the country. Belize was formed out of the fragmented British crown colony known as British Honduras. The Country was established in 1973, and, after a delay of several years during which Guatemala made territorial claims, received its full independence in 1981. Belize is the only country in Central America that speaks English as its national language; most other countries in the region speak Spanish or Portuguese as their primary language. Belize has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. Belize is a country full of adventures; it has the longest barrier reef in the hemisphere and a surprising number of mahogany trees and Maya temples. The rich biodiversity within this country means that there is a never ending supply of outdoor activities to experience, from snorkeling the beautiful blue ocean waters, to hiking in the Amazon jungles, or exploring in one of the numerous caves that can be found throughout the country.
The healthcare system of Belize is comprised of both public and private medical services. Under public healthcare, most Belizeans are entitled to free or low cost healthcare at Government-run hospitals and clinics around the country. However, the majority of funding is directed towards healthcare services in the capital city. Private medical services are also available in Belize, however, patients are required to pay a fee for services.
The Ministry of Health is the Government body responsible of overseeing and funding the public healthcare system. The country allocates about 5% of the GDP to healthcare. Physicians in Belize are generally well-trained, most doctors are foreign-born and received training overseas, including a large population of volunteer doctors from Cuba. Although the country’s physicians maybe well-trained, medical centers are often short staffed, equipment, supplies, and healthcare services are unevenly distributed throughout the country; over half of all healthcare personnel are in the Belize City area. Hospitals are often overcrowded and under-supplied, leaving doctors with limited options when treating patients. However, compared to countries like USA and Europe, most public healthcare services in Belize are relatively affordable.
If expats require more than just basic healthcare in Belize, it is common that they travel North into Mexico to seek for medical treatments, where facilities and services are better equipped and staffed. Many expats travel to neighbouring country like Guatemala or Mexico, or even fly back home for specialised treatment. The Belize Government currently subsidizes some medications and necessary treatments like vaccinations and emergency surgeries. The Government also partially subsidizes essential medical trips to neighboring countries; however, patients may still end up paying large sums, out-of-pocket, on medical treatment. As such, many people in the country have purchased private insurance on top of the basic State healthcare coverage.
Overall, the private healthcare sector in Belize has better equipment, facilities and services than medical facilities operated by the state healthcare services. The Government does not regulate the Belize private medical sector. Patients are required to make payment for all services rendered, either pay out-of-pocket or through private insurance. Private healthcare is therefore often limited to people who can afford it.
There is only one kind of public insurance scheme available in Belize, which is through the Social Security Board (SSB). People who work in Belize are automatically eligible to this insurance and they must make contribution to this scheme. Belizeans are required to register with the SSB from birth. Any non-nationals who want to gain permanent residency, become a Belizean citizen, or apply for a work permit must also register with the SSB. Both employers and employees are required to contribute to SSB. Social Security covers medical expenses for all work-related injuries or diseases. It also provides sickness, maternity or retirement benefits if one becomes unable to work. Funeral costs are also covered if the cause of death is related to work.
The Belizean Government is trying to improve the healthcare system within the country. They are currently introducing a National Health Insurance (NHI) system. At present, only limited services are offered to a small group of population, however, the goal of NHI is to eventually provide free healthcare services to all residents and citizens.
In general, the healthcare system in Belize is perhaps not in par with the standard that foreigners are normally used to in their home country. A few issues do exist in the infrastructure of Belize’s public healthcare, it suffers from a chronical shortage in staff, equipment and medicine, especially in the rural areas of the country. Moreover, the vast majority of funding is focused upon the capital city, and the State healthcare of Belize always struggle to cope with the never-ending long queue of patients. Should you desire to receive a more reliable and immediate treatment at a doctor or clinic of your choice, an expat Belize medical insurance plan will be the optimal solution for you. This will give you a peace-of-mind knowing that medical costs will be covered quickly and efficiently in case of an accident or illness for yourself and your family while travelling to Belize.
Pacific Prime is a one-stop insurance brokerage service provider for you when travelling to Belize. We offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, including benefits such as dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many others. We offer a large variety of health care plans as well as travellers insurance plans. Contact our professional advisers today to enjoy full insurance protection such as a Health Insurance Plan for yourself and your family.