Peru Medical Insurance
The Republic of Peru is located on the western coast of South America. To Peru’s east is Brazil, southeast is Bolivia, south is Chile, and north is Ecuador and Columbia. Peru is a former Spanish colony, but gained its independence in 1821. Since then, Peru has undergone a series of periods fluctuating between political and economic unrest and stability. The Peruvian population is made up of a diverse mix of Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Ameri-Indians. This melding of different traditions has given rise to a distinct art, cuisine, music, dance, and literature culture. Peru’s 1,285,216 sq. km. is made up of plains, valleys, highlands, and jungles. Visitors to Peru will experience a unique equatorial country that has beautiful landscapes, rich history, and a diverse modern culture.
Peru’s history of periodic instability has made it difficult for the government to establish a sound healthcare system. The weaknesses of the health sector were revealed in the 1990s when Peru experienced a cholera epidemic. During this time, around 25 percent of urban Peruvians and over 90 percent of rural Peruvians did not have access to clean water and sanitation services. This led to a large number of the population to be exposed to many waterborne diseases and resulted in approximately 9,000 deaths.
The Peruvian public health sector is administered centrally by the Ministry of Health. The Peruvian prime minister and council of ministries together come up with the country’s health policies, regulations, and strategies. These policies are then passed on to Congress for ratification. The responsibilities of the implementation of these laws are then passed on to the leaders of the 25 administrative regions of Peru. These regions are further divided into provinces and districts. In addition to the Ministry of Health, the Social Security Service, and the Armed Forces Hospital also play a role in administering health care policies.
The Peru healthcare system is organized so that all Peruvians regardless of income can have free health services. Peru has large economic inequalities, with 20 percent of the population controlling over 54 percent of the country’s income. Around 50 percent of the population lives in poverty, with 20 percent living well below the poverty line. The Peru healthcare system focuses on providing as many people with primary care services as possible. With help from foreign organizations, such as the U.S. Humanitarian agency, Peru’s state-run healthcare system, EsSalud, has hired 2,500 doctors and purchased 400 million Peruvian sols worth of medical equipment to bolster the public medical sector. However, the overall industry is still in dire need of additional resources, supplies, staff, and equipment in order to treat its largely poverty-stricken patient base. For example, in some areas, patients have to wait almost up to 40 days in order to have a consultation with a physician. If a patient requires surgery, waiting times may be up to 60 days. Many times, patients did not even receive the treatment that they needed, may not receive all the medicine that they need, or be mistreated by the medical staff.
In 2010, Peru’s health expenditure per capita was $208 USD. This is low by western standards, but comparable to many Central American countries. However, EsSalud has pledged to increase the number of health facilities and has invested $333 million USD into this project. In 2008, the government began building 15 new hospitals, hoping to increase the number of patients that it can service by 40 percent. These are scheduled to be finished after twenty months. In addition, the government hopes to begin constructing 12 more in 2009. The Ministry of Health’s main goal right now is to decentralize, as one of its greatest problems is the lack of access to health care in ruralareas. Although many of these facilities lack much in the way of proper medical supplies, medicine, equipment, and staff, the number of Peruvians who have access to EsSalud is rising. In 2006, the number of people who had access to a healthcare center was 7.5 million people. By, 2009, that number had increased to 10 million people.
In 2010, the Peruvian government announced a new healthcare payment system that will guarantee everyone the same quality of care, regardless of income. The entire Peruvian populace will be separated into three categories: contributory, semi-contributory, and subsidized. Those who are working, such as government employees and other professionals and their employers will both pay a monetary contribution to the government. Those who cannot afford treatment will have their services paid for by the state. As a part of this program, the Peruvian government has also set a goal for itself to lower the poverty rate from 36.2 percent to 30 percent by 2011.
The private health sector in Peru is small, and mainly centered in the capital city of Lima. Private clinics are generally of a much higher standard than public health facilities. These tend to have up-to-date equipment, medicine, supplies, diagnostic equipment, and well-trained physicians and nurses. However, services are very expensive. With the great disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Peru, only Peruvians of the middle class and above can afford these services. Local private health insurance schemes are available, but they have been known to be mostly about profits. Many insurance companies run their own private hospitals and try to cut the costs of their supplies, equipment, or medicine. These savings will not usually be reflected in the prices or insurance. For example, medicine from a private facility, with insurance, may still be 20-30 percent higher than in public pharmacies. People with private insurance also need to be certain to check what their policy covers and doesn’t cover.
Leading causes of death in Peru mainly include infectious diseases such as respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, colds, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, and chicken pox, and the whooping cough. Furthermore, Peru’s vast jungles also make diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, Leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease quite common.
Tourists and expatriates going to Peru should purchase an international health insurance policy before arrival. Although there are public and private facilities that are available to foreign nationals, public ones are of a significantly lower quality than in western nations, while the private facilities will be extremely costly without insurance. Moreover, it is highly recommended that travelers take out a policy that covers emergency evacuation and transportation costs. In a rural area, it may be very difficult to find a healthcare center. Even then, rural facilities can only treat mild injuries or illnesses. In the event that you are seriously injured, transportation costs can be as much as $100,000 USD, so be sure to check that you are covered for transportation expenses.
Travelers visiting the country should get vaccinated against yellow fever,hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, tetanus-diphtheria, mumps, measles, and rubella. In addition, malaria is prevalent throughout most parts of Peru, with the exception of Lima and cities in its proximity, so visitors need to carry anti-malarial medicine, sleep in bed nets, and use insect repellant. Always bring adequate supplies of personal prescription medicine and a doctor’s note for these prescriptions. It is also recommended that travelers bring diarrhea medicine, as diarrhea is a common ailment of travelers.
Pacific Prime can assist you with any travel, or health insurance needs if you decide to travel to Peru. We offer professional advice at no cost to you. No matter what your budget is or what your requirements are, our professional consultants can help find a policy that fits you or your group. Our policies can cover a wide range of services including dental, maternity, specialist consultation, transportation, inpatient services, and many more. Please contact us today for a free consultation.