Your mini-guide to medical insurance in El Salvador
If you are planning to move to, or are already living in El Salvador it would be a good idea to secure robust health insurance coverage for you and your family. Here, Pacific Prime has created a miniguide looking at all you need to know about health insurance in El Salvador. Read on, or click below for a free quote.
Overview of healthcare in El Salvador
As with other countries in the region, El Salvador has struggled to offer quality health and healthcare solutions throughout the country. That said, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MSPAS) is the government body charged with determining national health policy, monitoring its performance, and providing overall supervision of the Salvadoran health sector.
The MSPAS, as a state agency, implements national health policies, sets standards and evaluates any health-related activities which affect El Salvador and the citizens of the country. In recent years, the MSPAS along with other governmental bodies have been taking large steps in order to both reform the existing healthcare system and introduce new initiatives that aim to help improve the health and quality of life of all residents in the country.
On a broad level, there are two avenues of healthcare providers in the country:
- Public healthcare facilities
- Private healthcare facilities
Together, these facilities offer the majority of healthcare in the country. You will be able to find facilities in El Salvador's major cities and the surrounding areas, with the best hospitals located in the capital city of San Salvador. Like many countries in the region however, there are virtually no medical facilities in rural, remote areas of the country. That said, the El Salvador Government does employ and train community workers who are responsible for providing basic health care and disease prevention measures.
Public healthcare facilities
Despite the reformations currently underway, the quality of healthcare in the country, especially at public facilities, does vary greatly. Generally, the Salvadoran public healthcare facilities – especially hospitals – are under-staffed and poorly equipped and many appear to have flaws in respect of inequalities, with access to better quality health services being directly linked to income levels. The government is addressing this imbalance, but it will take some time to correct.
Private healthcare facilities
On the other hand, there are private health providers in El Salvador – in San Salvador and Soyapango – which offer a better standard of health services that is deemed to be on par with international standards. The private healthcare sector in El Salvador consists of clinics and general hospitals and hospitals specializing in particular treatments; these are concentrated in the capital San Salvador and other large cities. The main Salvadoran private hospitals are the Hospital de Diagnóstico, the Hospital de la Mujer, the Centro Pediátrico, and the Centro Ginecológico.
You should be aware however that there are some specialty treatments that are not available in El Salvador. Patients, who can afford it, commonly travel to the US to receive specialty services that are not available within El Salvador, such as oncology and complex cardiac treatment.
For care in the country, the private healthcare sector in El Salvador consists of clinics and general hospitals and hospitals specializing in particular treatments; these are concentrated in the capital San Salvador and other large cities. The main Salvadoran private hospitals are the Hospital de Diagnóstico, the Hospital de la Mujer, the Centro Pediátrico, and the Centro Ginecológico.
These hospitals offer the best healthcare facilities in the country, providing patients with a variety of health services ranging from minor medical procedures to medical surgery. They are also the most advanced healthcare providers in El Salvador and are able to stabilize a patient’s health. As they are private, they do tend to cater to foreign nationals and offer a western style system of healthcare. However, medical treatment requiring more advanced medical services will probably need to be carried out in a country with a medical center of excellence.
Aside from private facilities, there are also facilities maintained by foreign Non-Government Organizations (NGO's) who maintain an influential presence in the country and help in delivering private healthcare services in El Salvador. These non-profit institutes offer medical services, including preventative treatments – predominantly in rural areas of El Salvador; they also organize healthcare in hospitals in the cities and towns.
Health insurance options for expats in El Salvador
El Salvador is a tropical country and as such, there are a number of tropical diseases present. Combine this with the fact that quality of healthcare is hard to find out of major cities, any expats living in, or visiting the country are strongly advised to secure health insurance in case you need to go to another country for care. When it comes to coverage there are two primary types of insurance available:
Public health insurance
As with many other countries in the region, publically funded health insurance is available. That said, coverage is fragmented and divided into two sub-systems that serve different Salvadoran citizen groups:
- Instituto Salvadoreño del Seguro Social (ISSS) - This is the country's main social security network provided by the government for employees and employers in the country. One feature of the ISSS is that it provides employees and employers with some form of health cover. Both employee and employer need to make payments to the Salvadoran social security scheme, with the employee paying 3% of total monthly income and the employer paying 7.5% of the employee's salary. These payments ensure that all workers in El Salvador have access to healthcare services and coverage for any work related injuries, which may occur. However, if an employee does not register with the ISSS, they will be excluded from healthcare cover in El Salvador.
- National Health Service (NHS) - The NHS in Salvador serves nearly four-fifths (78%) of the population and is designed to help provide coverage and care for the population. It is however, under-developed, and under-funded. This means that the health services are stretched and inadequate to meet the medical needs of the majority of Salvadorans – who only have access to healthcare via the NHS as they do not meet the requirements to join the ISSS.
Aside from the systems above, there are also a number of industry-specific public insurance systems. For example, the welfare of the teaching profession in El Salvador is provided under the health system of the Ministry of Education. Teachers and their families are provided with health benefits from the Salvadoran government as part of a healthcare sub-system operating in the country. This entitles teaching professionals to access healthcare services. The Salvadoran military and their families are also provided with specific healthcare services under a sub-system covering access to health units, hospitals, and schools.
Private health insurance
Expats and residents living in El Salvador also have access to private health insurance plans from all of the top providers in the region and the world. When looking at private health insurance plans in El Salvador you will come across two different categories of plans:
- Local health insurance - Designed to provide cover at private facilities within the country only.
- International health insurance - Designed to provide cover not only in El Salvador but in almost any other country in the world.
What type of health insurance should I purchase?
While there are private health facilities offering decent health care in some cities in the country, it is highly recommended that for any urgent, serious, or even ongoing care, that you seek medical treatment outside of the country. In fact, many residents and expats who can afford it will usually travel out of the country for anything beyond basic medical care.
Combine this with the fact that public facilities and even some private ones are drastically under-developed and it is clear to see that it would be a good idea that if you are in El Salvador, you have a plan that will cover care outside of the country. In other words, an international health insurance plan is ideal.
Beyond providing coverage in other countries, these plans also have emergency evacuation coverage which will see the cost of going to another country for care during an emergency partially or completely covered.
How much will I pay for international health insurance in El Salvador?
International health insurance plans in El Salvador will vary in cost with premiums depending on a number of factors including your age, coverage requirements, and current health. One thing to be aware of here is that if you do plan on seeking care in the US, then the cost of coverage will be higher due to the high cost of healthcare in the country.
Looking to learn more about your health insurance options for El Salvador? Click the button below to get a free quote from Pacific Prime.