Paraguay is popularly known in Latin America as Corazón de América (Heart of America). It is the continent's only landlocked country between Argentina and Brazil -- an odd fact about the country is that though it has no coastline, it has a capable navy. Pleasantly warm most of the year and cool between May and August (it is located in the Southern Hemisphere), Paraguay has become a place where many expatriates have settled.
The reasons many expatriates choose Paraguay are obvious – low crime rate and a burgeoning economy growing at 5% on the back of electricity and beef exports. Paraguay offers opportunities rarely found elsewhere.
If you are looking for an easy lifestyle, opt to live here but be sure that you buy an expat medical insurance plan before you leave your home country. The public healthcare system in Paraguay is found to be lacking many important coverages by expatriates that relocate to Paraguay.
Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, is quite affordable and offers an experience of genuine indigenous South American culture not seen in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, which are far more westernized.
Paraguayan Public Healthcare System – Healthcare for Everyone
The public healthcare system in Paraguay is overseen by the Ministry of Health and the Institute of Social Welfare (IPS). Between these organizations, they cover nearly all the population.
There are public hospitals in the capital and several clinics spread throughout the sparsely populated country. There are 432 hospitalization facilities spread around the country, but most offer rudimentary care.
The public sector, however, provides free treatment and hospitalization for all sections of the population. For Paraguayans who cannot afford private clinics, the only way to consult a specialist is at a public hospital in Asuncion.
Paraguayan Public Healthcare System – Inadequate and Fragmented
There are good intentions at the planning level that have not been successfully implemented on the ground. Despite a quite respectable GDP per capita at $5,200, the system is poorly funded and unsuccessfully run.
This has resulted in chaotic conditions and the healthcare system is in danger of collapsing under the weight of patients. The number of beds available on paper is sufficient, but most facilities are for rudimentary treatment of fever and not a real medical center capable of providing significant treatment for serious conditions.
The issues have made the Paraguayan public healthcare system woefully inadequate.
Paraguayan Private Healthcare – The Silver Lining
As an expat, you do not need to worry about your healthcare in Paraguay. You could always access the rather well-run private clinics and hospitals which dot Asuncion. Of course, there are no such facilities in the countryside.
The private sector accounts for almost 45% of Paraguay's expenditure on healthcare. But very few can afford it since most find it beyond their means.
In exchange for the prompt service and advanced medical treatment, you would have to pay a commensurate price. That is not a cause for concern if you buy coverage through Paraguayan expatriate medical insurance.
Paraguayan Expat Health Insurance – Private Care at Affordable Cost
An idyllic life in Paraguay could be yours. But if you are worried about the state of public healthcare, it is best that you buy an expat health insurance policy for private hospitals in Paraguay.
When you buy such a policy, you have to be quite careful that you are actually paying for riders you want or need. We have created a short guide about the coverage and benefits that will make a difference.
- Translation Services – Medical treatment is based on diagnostics and imaging. Often these reports are the basis for you to decide if you want to return home. In Paraguay, these reports would be in Spanish and could be quite hard for you or a doctor back home to read. It is quite essential that your policy provides for translation of reports into English or a language of your choice e.g., French.
- Evacuation – If your health condition is serious, you could need a better specialist than available in Paraguay. You could seek treatment in nearby countries like Brazil or Mexico, or even travel farther to the U.S. or Canada. For that, you would need an evacuation clause. This pays for your air ambulance costs to the country you desire or the nearest country where you can receive adequate treatment of your condition. Of course, you hope to not face such an emergency, but it is always better to be prepared.
- Coverage Area – The policy must be operative in multiple nations. The best expatriate policies are applicable globally or worldwide, some barring the U.S. You would travel both for business and pleasure. You might even choose to settle in Argentina for a while and then return to Paraguay. Would you buy a new insurance policy every time you move? That would be very expensive, frustrating, and hard to implement.
- Pre-existing Conditions – If you have a long-standing medical problem that finally needs treatment after you buy a new policy, the insurer might not accept the claim. Typical examples include cataracts, heart problems, and diabetes, which take a long time to develop. There is usually a compulsory waiting period for several diseases, such as at least six months for cataract surgery. The shorter the waiting period, the better the plan is.
- Co-payment – To keep premiums low, insurers like the insured person to bear a part of the cost. This is known as a copay and might range between 10% and 50%, usually up to a certain amount like $5,000, then the insurer would pay 100% of the costs. Although it may sound counter-intuitive to some people, it stops the insured person from filing deceptive claims about problems that are easily treated as an outpatient.
- Accident & Emergency Coverage (A&E Coverage) – Some cheaper policies only accept claims if you’re admitted as inpatient and it's an overnight hospital stay. This means you would not be able to claim coverage with your insurance even if you fell from a bicycle and only needed stitches. The best A&E coverage includes coverage for inpatient and outpatient procedures, as well as a daily allowance known as hospital indemnity when you’re admitted as inpatient.
Stay Healthy with Expat Health Insurance
You should assess your medical insurance needs, coverage preferences, and compare the expat health insurance plan specific coverages side by side, then buy the plan that best suits your requirements. Depending on your needs, this can allow you to keep premiums low and be fully covered.
After buying a suitable policy, you are set to live a life of relaxation and adventure in Paraguay. Contact us if you have questions or would like assistance choosing the most suitable plan.