Health Insurance in Trinidad and Tobago
If you’re lucky enough to permanently move to or even just visit Trinidad and Tobago, you should spare a few moments to consider the healthcare landscape in the country. It’s always good to be prepared in case things go awry - so read on to learn more about the country’s healthcare system, travel tips, as well as how to purchase health insurance in Trinidad and Tobago. Or, you could jump straight to it and obtain a free quote below!
About Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelago located in the Carribean - sharing a maritime border with Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, and Venezuela. It covers an area of 5,128 km² and is home to 1.3 million people. Originally a Spanish colony during the time of Christopher Columbus, it remained that way until 1802 when Spain ceded it to Britain. In 1962 the people of Trinidad and Tobago gained independence and finally formed a republic in 1976. In modern times, the country follows a Westminster-style bicameral parliamentary system and has English as its official language. It’s well known for its African and Indian cultures, reflecting the people who have settled there. Although it has some beautiful beaches, tourism isn’t a large sector of the economy. Instead, Trinidad and Tobago has a primarily industrial economy, focusing on the production and processing of natural oil and gas. The country also has a universal healthcare system.
Healthcare system in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago’s universal healthcare system operates in a two-tier fashion - the public sector (primary tier) provides basic healthcare financed by the government and the private sector (secondary tier) offers those with sufficient funds access to better quality health services. The public sector healthcare is plagued with long waiting times, while its private counterpart is far more convenient. The Ministry of Health (MoH) does not play a direct role in running health facilities, as that authority belongs to the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), but they simply play an administrative and regulatory role. It ensures that facilities are properly run, setting goals, targets, and policies for regions based on the measurement of real health needs.
Public healthcare system
The public healthcare system is used by the majority of the population and is offered free of charge to all citizens. For expats and tourists, payment will have to be provided either out of pocket or via an insurance provider. In some areas of Trinidad and Tobago, especially outside the major cities, health facilities can be limited and not up to western standards. Care at these facilities for treatment of serious injuries and illnesses is significantly inadequate, with limited access to supplies and medication.
Some of the major public hospitals include, but are not limited, to:
- Port of Spain General Hospital - main hospital, located in its capital the Port of Spain
- San Fernando General Hospital - provides patients with many services that aren’t readily available in other parts of the country and is considered the main trauma unit for the Southern region
- Mount Hope Hospital
- Sangre Grande Hospital
In the event of a medical emergency, the number for an ambulance is 811. Patients will be taken to an Emergency Room of the nearest health facility. Note that the government advises people to use this facility only for life-threatening emergencies. Ambulance services are exceptionally limited in both quality of emergency care and availability of vehicles in some parts of the country.
Private healthcare system
The private healthcare system is relatively small and patients are expected to prove their ability to pay before treatment can be received - even in emergency situations. It consists of a handful of private facilities that are sufficient enough to treat ordinary health problems. While they offer better quality of care than their public counterparts, private facilities in the country are still not capable of handling serious illnesses, injuries, as well as long term care.
The four main hospital facilities are the following, which are located either in Port of Spain or San Fernando:
- Nicoll Nursing Home
- Southern Medical Clinic
- Langmore Health Foundation
- Adventist Hospital
For any tourists or expatriates in Trinidad and Tobago, it is important to secure an international health insurance plan that would cover the possible need for medical evacuation to another country with an adequate medical facility. The final destination for the majority of medical evacuation patients will be the United States - a country known for its bank-breakingly expensive cost of healthcare services.
Trinidad and Tobago Travel Advice
Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago are urged to bear in mind the following health and safety advice. In case of health emergencies while traveling, it is also a good idea to be in possession of a valid travel insurance plan.
Crime: Gang-related violence can be a threat in some areas, so maintain security awareness at all times.
Road safety: If driving, be careful at night on unlit roads. High speed road accidents on the main highways often result in fatalities.
Hurricanes: Although the country is rarely affected by hurricanes in the Caribbean, you should monitor weather updates from the National Hurricane Centre.
Earthquakes: Tremors from earthquakes can be felt. Read the advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
Parasitic worm: Only drink bottled or boiled water. Other sources of water may contain schistosomiasis, which is a parasitic worm.
Ciguatera poisoning: Be wary of food sources. Ciguatera poisoning can be contracted from the consumption of subtropical and tropical marine finfish, which have built up naturally occurring toxins.
Dengue fever and Malaria: Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria are common. Be sure to use mosquito repellent and cover your body to avoid infection.
Other common diseases: Other notable diseases are cholera, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A&B, and yellow fever. The HIV/AIDS presence is also much higher than in western countries.
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 Trinidad and Tobago embassy should you have any doubts before you depart on your journey.
Private health insurance for expats in Trinidad and Tobago
As is the case with moving to small island countries, it’s important to secure an international health insurance plan in Trinidad and Tobago - one that gives you flexibility in seeking treatment overseas and medical evacuation should you need it. This will give you peace of mind as you can always bank on good healthcare no matter what the local situation in the country. Don’t know where to begin in your quest for health insurance? Don’t worry as Pacific Prime is here to help.
Specializing in expat health insurance plans catering to foreign nationals in Trinidad and Tobago, Pacific Prime can help you find plans with no deductibles or excesses. What’s more, we can even help you secure plans with a range of added benefits like dental, maternity, vision, and beyond. Many of our plans are also globally portable and renewable for life, so you’ll always have the coverage you need. Have further questions? Contact us today for a free quote and insurance consultation!