Tuesday, November 26th 2019
What Is Healthcare in Belize Like?
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Introduction to Healthcare in Belize:
After arriving on San Pedro Island in Belize, one of our contributors set out with a goal of fully understand the healthcare in Belize for expats. He interviewed over a dozen local expats—some of which are our clients like you could be. He then visited a top private hospital and met with a well-referred GP. After looking into healthcare in Belize, he came to the following conclusions that he felt might help you in deciding whether or not expat health insurance is right for you.
The following are his words:
HealthCare in Belize:
- Healthcare in Belize—specifically on San Pedro Island—is limited because of the nature of island life.
- For example, the hospital I visited is considered the best private hospital on the Island. But in an emergency, the most this hospital can do is stabilize your condition. They just don’t have the capabilities to perform operations are at their facility.
- Once a person is stabilized, they must evacuate to Mexico or Belize City. The problem is the island has no resources to perform any operations and major surgeries.
- There is virtually no cancer oncology or endocrinology facilities in Belize. All of these procedures must be outsourced to Mexico.
- Medications in Belize are also limited and expensive. Due to strict importation regulations, a lot of medications are sold on the black market—and then who knows what you are actually purchasing.
- While Belize City can perform many major operations, the overall feeling among expats in Belize is that they lack trust in the system of healthcare in Belize. The doctor I met with is from the US, and though experienced, she felt more comfortable outsourcing certain procedures where better equipment was available.
Healthcare in San Pedro Island:
The hospital that I visited is considered the best private hospital on San Pedro Island.
Overall the hospital is a nice facility, clearly very clean, though it is lacking the essentials to treat patients for complicated procedures.
Their only major equipment is a 3-D XRAY machine and an ultrasound.
The head GP is an American woman named Dr. Renae. She is the go-to expat doctor on San Pedro Island.
- Healthcare in Belize is largely more expensive than Mexico.
- However, some procedures are less expensive, an angioplasty surgery costs $8,000 USD.
- A medical evacuation from San Pedro to Belize City will cost between $5,000 USD and $10,000 USD, depending on the company. RRR Air-Evac is the main company used on the island.
- Because of the nature of the facilities on San Pedro Island, it is important to have medivac insurance.
- The general consensus is there are no brokers selling expat insurance in San Pedro Island.
- The main competition is local insurance mainly www.sagicorlife.com. Sagicor has a very overpriced premium. For example, a 51-year-old women major medical policy runs $90 US a month with only $50,000 BLZ in total coverage—and that is with only providing coverage in the country.
- Preliminary research suggests that WeExpats’ competitive pricing is a huge benefit to the expat community, because overpriced brokers have no real competition on San Pedro Island.
Things to Gather from Our Investigation into Healthcare in Belize:
- Belize is not a great location to be stuck with a medical emergency
- Healthcare in Belize is clean but lacks basic equipment.
- Many expats prefer to live in Corazal so that they can be evacuated to Chetumal, Mexico in the event of an emergency.
- Expat health insurance—like that provided by WeExpats—is a must when living in Belize.
- You generally have to travel long distances to see a specialist—or any doctor really. Often, doctors are found by word of mouth.
- Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in your house in case of emergencies.
- Medication in Belize is more expensive than in Mexico, and specific prescription medications are often unavailable. Many expats have to resort to finding their medication on the black market.
- Pregnancy tests are not found on San Pedro Island and must be brought from home.
- Having a baby in Belize can lead to a lot of unexpected costs.
*To learn more about healthcare in Belize, click here.
Healthcare in Belize – Conclusion:
– Healthcare in San Pedro Island –
For obvious reasons, the healthcare on San Pedro Island is limited. It is a small tropical paradise, however, the island lacks the infrastructure necessary to conduct limited procedures. So, it has to depend a lot on Mexican facilities across the border during an emergency—and for that, you really should get medivac insurance.
– Healthcare in Belize –
Overall though, healthcare in Belize is understandably limited. Even in the major cities, the limitations of healthcare in Belize are typical of one of the smallest and poorest developing nations in the Americas.
You don’t want to be caught in an emergency without protection for yourself or your loved ones. Rest easy knowing that you are covered. WeExpats can help!
An Interview with a Doctor on San Pedro Island, Belize:
Dr. Kyle A. Habet a native Belizean who is a general doctor that completed his medical studies at UCIMED in Costa Rica. He has USA hospital experience, having completed some of his internship at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Growing in Belize city and studying in Costa Rica, Dr. Habet is fluent both in Spanish and English.
With an interest in medical investigation, at 29 years old Dr. Habet is a three timed published author.
He recently moved to Ambergris Caye and has a private practice located in San Pedro Town at San Carlos Medical Center. In the heart of San Pedro, the clinic and pharmacy are located on Pescador Drive.
These are some of the services provided, prices vary depending on material and specific procedures given to the patient:
- $66 USD per consultation
- Prenatal Care
- Wound Care
- Minor Surgery
- Tour Guide and Boat Captain Certification
- Decompression Sickness treatment with access to a hyperbaric chamber on the island.
- Management of Chronic Diseases
- Lab Services
- Pharmaceutical Services
The clinic is open Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 9 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 12 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm.
Dr. Habet is available for emergencies and house calls until 10 pm Monday to Saturday. His emergency contact number is +501 610 6652.
No USA or Canadian insurance is accepted directly by the clinic in Belize, however, upon request a detailed invoice can be provided with CPT, ICD10 and HPCS codes to present to an insurance provider. We recommend our patients to confirm with their insurance providers about emergency services provided abroad. Most insurances will cover it as Out of Network services.
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