Armenia Medical Insurance
The Republic of Armenia is a landlocked, mountainous Eastern European nation located in the South Caucasus region. It is bordered by Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Turkey to the west and Iran to the south. To many, Armenia is best known for being one of the earliest Christian civilizations, with its first churches founded in the fourth century. Travelers visiting Armenia will find many sites rich in historical tradition, ancient monasteries and stunning landscapes. The capital Yerevan is both the nation's cultural and commercial hub.
Armenia declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since embarked on significant democratic and market-based economic reforms with the goal of soon becoming a member of the European Union. Not long after independence however, the Armenians in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan fought to secede from that country with support from Armenia, and the sizeable Armenian Diaspora. A ceasefire has been in place since 1994. The war was won militarily but to date no diplomatic solution has been reached. Azerbaijan and Armenia are still technically at war. The Armenian and Karabakh borders with Azerbaijan are closed, and Turkey has closed its land border with Armenia in support of its Turkic-Azeri neighbors. Any foreigners venturing within five kilometers of these borders are likely to be stopped by the police or the military. Areas outside this conflict region are generally not affected and international business and travel remain viable for now.
Armenia inherited the highly centralized Soviet Semashko health care system which guaranteed free medical treatment with a comprehensive range of secondary and tertiary care to all citizens. The system was financed by general taxation. Funding and medical policy was based on national soviet norms and failed to take into account the health needs of the actual population. Priority was given to large specialized hospitals while primary care was left largely undeveloped. After independence, the country faced considerable economic and socio-political upheaval. This led directly to a decline in health standards and placed excessive strains on the state health care system. Armenia was simply no longer in a position to continue funding a cumbersome, expensive, and inadequate health care system and its government was thus obliged to devise a broad reform agenda.
The Armenian health care system has been restructured and largely decentralized into three administrative divisions: national, regional and municipal/community. All the public health facilities from the previous system continue to function but they are now managed under local governments (for primary health clinics) and regional governments (for hospitals). Some tertiary care hospitals and the state sanitary and epidemiological services remain under the control of the national government. The Ministry of Health oversees state medical policy and interfaces with international planning and aid organizations. Hospitals and clinics are responsible for their own budgets, personnel management and for setting the prices of services not included in the basic state-run health care package. A legacy from the Soviet system has been an over-abundance of hospital beds and curative physicians versus a more broad health skills and promotion strategy. The health system is working to become more efficient but change is slow due to poor integration and communication between the different levels of care. The private health care sector has yet to really develop, beyond the privatization of former public medical facilities.
The Armenian government has continued to face difficulty in meeting its budgetary commitments to the health care sector. In response to this shortage of public funds, Armenia introduced the Basic Benefits Package (BBP), which includes official charges to patients for services. The BBP is both a package of specific services that are theoretically guaranteed to be free of charge and a list of vulnerable population groups who are entitled to receive all available medical treatment at no cost. All other Armenian residents not in this group must pay out of pocket, at point of use, for all treatment and pharmaceuticals not listed in the BBP. In practice however, due to the widespread system of informal payments and limited resources, even those vulnerable groups entitled to free health care are frequently asked to pay for services. Out-of-pocket payments are the major source of financing for the health care system in Armenia, at an estimated 65% of all medical expenditure; the majority of these are informal. The very low prices paid by the state to publicly funded facilities do not cover actual service costs and have worked to increase the amount of under-the-table payments. Access to primary care has become a major problem as a large segment of the Armenian population cannot afford even these basic expenses. Many people avoid medical treatment until it is the last resort.
Foreign nationals should take caution when in certain areas of Armenia. Travel near the borders with Azerbaijan is dangerous. This particularly covers the border regions of Tavush and Gegharkunik, where there has been periodic gunfire over The Line of Contact. Those who wish to visit Armenia are strongly advised to take out a comprehensive medical insurance policy before departure. Medical care in Armenia is extremely limited, especially outside of Yerevan. The training of physicians is below Western standards and most hospitals suffer from outdated equipment and insufficient medical supplies. Rural facilities are particularly sparse. Doctors will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. For private medical care, which is generally superior to that in the former state system, many expatriates go to the European Medical Center or Dr. Armen Pirouzyan at the Malatia Medical Centre, both in Yerevan. Encountering serious medical problems while in Armenia will require an air evacuation to a Western European country with state-of-the-art medical facilities. Such service can be very expensive and the ability to pay out of pocket or present an insurance document proving coverage may be required before a patient will be transported.
Emergency protocols must be adopted by expatriates living in Armenia during the event of a serious accident, illness or crime. For a city ambulance in Yerevan, call 103. Alternatively, you can call the 24-hour emergency services line 15-536-641 (city line) or 51-43 (government line), or go to the Ministry of Health Hospital Number 4 at 21 Paronian Street, which usually has English-speaking doctors on staff. Ambulance response times can be slow.
Pacific Prime will consult and offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs should you plan to travel to Armenia. We offer a wide variety of health care plans and travel insurance policies with possible benefit packages including dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many more. Please contact our professional advisors today for a free quote and enjoy the security that our extensive Health Insurance Plans can provide.