Trinidad and Tobago Medical Insurance
Off the eastern coast of Venezuela are the two islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Formally known as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, shares its maritime boarders with the 3 countries of Venezuela, Guyana, and Barbados. Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelago country whose government runs as a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system, which was based on the Westminster system. Covering an area of 5,128 km², Trinidad and Tobago holds a population close to 1,229,000, according to estimates in July 2010.
Originally a Spanish colony created during the time of Christopher Columbus, it remained that way until 1802 when the Spanish ceded it to the British. In 1962 the people of Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from Britain and finally formed a republic in 1976. Though Trinidad and Tobago is another beautiful set of islands in the Caribbean, tourism is not a large sector of the Economy. The economy is primarily industrial, with petroleum and natural gas production and processing allowing the country’s economy to prosper. Trinidad and Tobago has a stable macroeconomic structure and a long history of institutional stability. This has permitted the economy to grow at an average rate of 7% between 2003-2008.
Trinidad and Tobago has a universal health care system that operates in a two-tier fashion, with the Ministry of Health (MoH) being responsible for leading the health care sector. A two-tier healthcare is a system that has a primary tier, public sector, with basic health care financed by the government which provides medically necessary but possibly fairly basic medical services. The secondary tier, which is the private sector, offers people with sufficient funds the ability to procure health care that is not covered by the publically financed sector, usually allowing for higher quality care with reduced waiting periods.
The MoH does not play a direct role in running health facilities, as that authority belongs to the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) since the passing of the Regional Health Authorities Act No. 5 in 1994. The MoH plays an administrative and regulatory role, ensuring that facilities are properly run, and by setting goals, targets and policies for regions based on the measurement of real health needs. The public health care system is used by a majority of the population and is offered for free for all citizens. For expatriates and tourists within the country, payment will have to be provided through over means, whether it be out-of-pocket or through an international insurance provider.
The public health facilities are the primary care sector for people within Trinidad and Tobago. As of January 2011 Trinidad and Tobago had over 138 health facilities which help facilitate the countries medical needs. These would include 12 hospitals, such as the Port of Spain General Hospital, San Fernando General Hospital and the Mount Hope Hospital. The Port of Spain General Hospital is the country’s main hospital and is located in its capital, the Port of Spain on Trinidad. The San Fernando General Hospital is another important facility as it 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 of the island of Trinidad. Its location, as its name suggests, is in the City of San Fernando. Almost all of the country’s hospitals are located on Trinidad while Tobago only has one main hospital, as it is a much smaller landmass with a smaller population. 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 public health facilities for treatment of serious injuries and illnesses is significantly inadequate with limited supplies and medications. Ambulance services are exceptionally limited in both quality of emergency care and availability of vehicles in some parts of the country. In the case of a serious medical emergency arising, a medical evacuation will be needed. It should be able to transport you to the closest facilities that offer sufficient medical care, which may be located in another country, such as the City of Miami in the United States.
The private medical sector within Trinidad and Tobago is relatively small, with only 4 main hospital facilities, this includes nursery homes. These four facilities are the Nicoll Nursing Home, Southern Medical Clinic, Langmore Health Foundation, and the Adventist Hospital, which are located either in the capital or the city of San Fernando on the island of Trinidad. The private facilities are sufficient enough to treat most ordinary health problems, and offer slightly better treatment & facilities than that of public facilities. Although, like the public facilities, the private sector is not quite capable of handling serious illnesses and injuries, especially those requiring long term care. A person seeking medical care at private facilities is expected to prove their ability to pay before any assistance is given, even in an emergency situation. Foreign patients are expected to have payment information on hand when seeking care at either a private or public medical facility. It is important that any tourist or expatriate traveling to Trinidad and Tobago obtain an international health insurance plan that would cover the possible need for medical transport and evacuation to another country with an adequate medical facility.
Trinidad and Tobago medical facilities have unique and unusual requirement for patients needing a blood transfusion. A patient may be asked to pre-arrange for an equal amount of blood to be donated to the medical facility.
Dengue fever is common throughout the Caribbean, and is present within Trinidad and Tobago. Dengue fever was an epidemic for Trinidad and Tobago in January 2011, and the disease is seen in the country year round. Malaria is another mosquito borne disease that is present in the islands, though it is not as prevalent as dengue fever. It is important for a person to take preventative measures at all times to reduce the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes and other infectious insects. There are other diseases and illness concerns common in travel within Trinidad and Tobago, such as; ciguatera poisoning, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS, cholera, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A & B, yellow fever and typhoid fever. The HIV/AIDS presence is much higher when compared to European countries and the United States. At the end of 2009 Trinidad and Tobago had close to 1.5% of its adult population infected with the HIV virus, meaning that around 15,000 people has the diseases. During that year though less than 1,000 people died due to the virus
Expatriates living or visiting Trinidad and Tobago should be wary of food and water sources. Ciguatera poisoning can be contracted from the consumption of subtropical and tropical marine finfish which have built up naturally occurring toxins in the course of their diet. It is advised to obtain water from bottles and not drink fresh water. The fresh water within the country may contain schistosomiasis, which is a parasitic worm. If you are to use the fresh water make sure it has been properly cleaned through boiling and iodine tablets.
Pacific Prime Insurances is a health insurance brokerage, and can offer a number of insurance policies, with optional benefit packages including dental, outpatient, inpatient, specialist consultations, maternity and many more. If you are interested in finding out more information about travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, or to receive a free Health Insurance Quote, feel free to contact one of our dedicated advisers today.