A combination of public and private health service providers make up the health system in Jamaica. About 57% of the population utilizes the private sector for health care. Private sector health services are provided through an extensive network of professionals offering specialist services, and by family doctors throughout the island. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for administrating the health system.
According to the PAHO Jamaica Country profile, approximately 38% of the population utilizes the public sector for ambulatory care, 57% use the private sector, and 5 % use both sectors. A number of non-governmental organizations provide health services for a nominal fee.
Jamaica has a doctor per 2,400 population. Dentists are little scarcer: the ratio is one dentist per 11,000 population. You will find more doctors in the towns than out of town. The Medical Council of Jamaica regulates the medical practice in Jamaica. To practice medicine in Jamaica (doctors, dentist etc) you must complete training from a recognized Medical School, and obtained the practicing certificate from the Council. Doctors must register annually and satisfy the Council that the practitioner has complied with requirements for continuing medical education (CME) in order to obtain the practising certificate.
Check with the Council that your doctor is on the current list. A good idea is to connect with EasyExpat's forums and ask about referrals and get personal recommendations.
Contacts for the Council:
Ideally, make an appointment with the doctor before the visit. The doctor's availability varies with days of the week, time of day, location of the practice and the waiting list on the day. The appointment is more necessary for dentist and medical specialists (e.g., gynaecologist) than for the general practitioner.
At a public hospital /clinic, you can be treated without a fee. However, surgeries in the public sector may delay due to waiting list for a service; or can be postponed due to lack of critical equipment. It is true that patients may have to buy specialized components before surgery can be scheduled. For persons with insurance, the cost for public hospital /clinic is charged to the health insurer.
The budget for the private doctor who is a GP starts at about JMD$3,500. Specialists are usually pricier - budget at least JMD$7,000 (going by estimates in 2015). You may also find that fees are higher in town compared to out-of-town for the GP. Laboratory fees for selected tests are upwards of JMD$3,000. Medical insurance helps to cover some of the cost.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Kingston is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Jamaica So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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