Your guide to health insurance in Kazakhstan
Moving or traveling to Kazakhstan can be both exciting and worrying. While the country offers opportunities to explore the stunning landscape of Central Asia, the lack of basic infrastructure and healthcare services can be a concern for many.
This guide by Pacific Prime provides a comprehensive list of the things you need to know before moving or traveling to Kazakhstan, covering core issues, such as the healthcare system and travel advice while in the country.
Getting to know Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan, located in Central Asia, was formerly a part of the Soviet Union, gaining its independence in 1991. Since then the nation has attempted to change its image, and with the discovery of large oil, natural gas, and metal deposits, the levels of international investment in the country have surged in the past decade.
The country is renowned for its endless steppes, fantastic local culture, an economy that is starting to take off, and much more to offer.
Kazakhstan’s healthcare system
Currently, most healthcare facilities in Kazakhstan are owned by the Ministry of Health. There are various medical facilities to be found in the city, offering outpatient care, as well as emergency rooms and special clinics. However, the availability of healthcare remains low in more remote areas.
Since the 1990s, the nation has seen the widespread return of communicable diseases that were once virtually extinct, such as Tuberculosis. Many of these illnesses are associated with individuals living in poverty and inadequate healthcare. These are the challenges Kazakhstan’s healthcare system currently faces:
- Funding: Despite recent efforts by the government, there is still a general lack of funding for public hospitals in the country. Given that most hospitals are still publicly run, the insufficient funding in which these hospitals receive has led to a lack of up-to-date technologies, medicines, and quality treatment for the public.
- Facilities: As the 9th largest country in the world, much of the Kazakh population lives in the countryside and outside big cities, where access to medical treatment is hard to obtain. Where there are clinics and medical facilities in these remote areas, they are typically only able to offer immediate emergency services and will not usually be able to provide long term care for serious illnesses. Patients requiring more than immediate emergency care will often be evacuated to an alternative medical facility, even if it is located outside of the country.
- Human resources: Since the 1990s, the country faced a lack of medical staff as many emigrated away in search of better opportunities. However, the Ministry of Health has been pushing for more medical education in the country. In 2018, 1,315 primary care physicians and 79 pediatric offices were opened. In 2019, more than 5,000 doctors, including 1,515 primary care physicians will graduate from medical institutions.
The country’s healthcare system has gone through a gradual process of privatization, allowing for some high-quality medical services to be provided in the country. However, these are usually only offered at the most expensive private hospitals, and then only in the major cities.
Private hospitals offer more English-speaking staff and higher quality healthcare services, making them more suitable for expats living in the country. However, the quality of private healthcare in Kazakhstan will still not measure up to the standards of developed countries.
For this reason, it is recommended that you utilize medical evacuation services if you are in need of special medical treatment or require a major operation.
Generally, all travelers to Kazakhstan are recommended to get Hepatitis A vaccination and combined Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio vaccination. Other common diseases which the country faces include Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Tuberculosis, and HIV.
Kazakhstan travel tips
Before venturing off into the beautiful mountains and lakes of Kazakhstan, here are some travel tips you should keep in mind.
- If you wish to drive in Kazakhstan, you should possess a valid international driving permit. Service stations and access to petrol will be limited outside of the major cities, and as such you are advised to obtain sufficient supplies prior to departing on your trip.
- Roads in Kazakhstan are poorly maintained and during the winter are especially hazardous. The quality of driving in the country is also poor and you are advised to be alert at all times.
- You should exercise caution about taking photographs of military installations, official buildings and at the border. Many restrictions exist and not all of these are well-publicized. If you wish to take a photograph you should ask first. This also applies to the local Kazakh population.
- Local healthcare facilities in Kazakhstan are extremely basic and may not be able to provide much in the way of care. You should ensure that any insurance you have provides an emergency evacuation benefit.
How to find the best private health insurance in Kazakhstan
Pacific Prime offers a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, be it international medical evacuation cover or international health insurance plans for you and your family. Contact our advisors today for impartial advice, or click the button below to revive an instant quote.