Located south of Mexico, Guatemala is known for its forests and volcanoes. The Pacific Ocean brings in a cool breeze that drives away the humidity, and the weather is pleasant year-round. The country is sprinkled with ancient Mayan ruins and vast lakes, and it does not lack places to visit. The cost of living is quite affordable and has drawn expats in hordes. Rent is quite low in Guatemala City, where most expats live, and most of the grocery brands you are used to are imported from the U.S.
The indigenous people are friendly and straightforward. The laid-back life at Lake Atitlan, at an altitude of 5,000 feet, is a second home away from Guatemala City for most expats.
Because it's a developing nation, the public healthcare system of Guatemala is quite fragile. If you move to this nation, it would be wise to obtain Guatemala expatriate health insurance for your welfare in case of any unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries.
Guatemalan Public Healthcare System: Affordable and All-Embracing
Is healthcare free in Guatemala? The Ministry of Health and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS) provide the funds for the public healthcare system in Guatemala. It covers nearly 90% of the population through public hospitals in Guatemala and health centers.
The government has allocated about 3% of its budget to the IGSS. This budget is one of the lowest in Central America and has resulted in a quite weak health infrastructure. Those who are employed have to pay around 5% of their salary to the social security health fund, and about 13% is provided further by the employer.
For those living in mountainous terrain, be aware that there are Maya Mobile Clinics, which provide regular health checkups free of cost.
Guatemala’s Public Healthcare System: Lack of Resources
The pillars of a public healthcare system are threefold: budget, infrastructure (hospitals and clinics), and trained medical personnel. In all three of these areas, Guatemala lags far behind most nations located south of Mexico. The civil war that stretched almost four decades until 1996 was a severe setback, and the nation has not been able to put an efficient healthcare system back into place.
There is a total of about 5,000 beds in the country spread across roughly 150 hospitals and health centers. The biggest of these is Hospital General San Juan de Dios and IGSS.
The rest can provide care for patients suffering from illnesses like dengue and tuberculosis, and they of course have a maternity ward, but they are not able to provide services like complex diagnostics or surgery.
Guatemalan Private Healthcare: A Rising Trend
Like most nations globally, the economy solves what the government can't. There has been a steady increase in the number of private hospitals and clinics in and around Guatemala City, where the upper-middle class and affluent live. This is beneficial for the expat community, as it means they do not have to visit dingy public hospitals or wait for days to get a blood test result.
As an expatriate, you have access to a full range of medical services as long as you are in the capital—but not outside it. For residents outside the capital, there are medical response teams such as Alerta Medica that provide ambulance services between Guatemala City and the rest of the country.
This class of privileged care, however, comes at a steep cost comparable to the first world. Therefore, it is necessary to have Guatemala expat health insurance to cover the treatment costs of any illness.
Guatemalan Expat Health Insurance: Defray the Cost Of Private Care
As an expat living in a tropical country, your health is of utmost importance. Dengue, malaria, and seasonal fever are common in Central America. Though they are seldom fatal, they would require a prolonged hospital stay and recuperation period.
This is why it is essential to pay attention to the add-ons you select for your expat medical insurance. We will explain some of the most useful riders you could use.
- Co-payment – This is a clause that allows the insurer to ask you for partial payment, no matter how extensive your coverage. The reason for this is that often people visit the hospital for treatments they could easily do themselves at home. This adds to the burden of insurers, who like to keep premiums affordable. You could be asked to pay for up to one-third of the total bill, although of course, you could attempt to bargain for a lower share.
- Non covered charges – When you are in the hospital, there are expenses not only for your treatment, medication, and doctors, but also the daily use of syringes, molly sheets, diapers, etc. These recurring small-budget items are not covered by some insurers. It is not difficult to meet them out of pocket, but over the course of a long stay, they can add up quickly. Additionally, if you can get a policy that has a no deductibles clause, all the better.
- Translation – The official language in Guatemala is Spanish, and English is not commonly spoken. Your test results would be in Spanish. It is hard to decide if you should return home and receive treatment if you cannot understand your prognosis. That is why your expat health insurance policy should include a translation benefit. Translation services are also invaluable for extended conferences with local medical specialists.
- Critical Care – Some diseases require more expensive treatments. Common examples include cancer and cardiovascular conditions such as a stroke. If critical care is part of your coverage, the premium will be significantly larger. If you and your spouse are young and in excellent health, you have the option to opt out of this rider.
- Geographical Area – Is there any use in buying a policy that applies to only one country? From Guatemala, you would very possibly be flying to places like Brazil and Mexico for vacation—or maybe even to Barbados and Europe. You might also return to your home country to visit your extended family. A policy that covers a large number of nations is far better than buying a new one every time you set foot outside the Guatemalan border.
Expat Health Insurance for Guatemala Brings Safety
Buying expatriate health insurance is convenient. You need to narrow down your requirements, much like you do when buying a car. Once you have settled on what you want, compare several policies, and purchase the one that is most suitable and affordable. Your custom expat health insurance policy ensures that your stay in Guatemala will be safe and stress-free.