Health and Medical Care in the Dominican Republic
It’s 2 a.m. and you have excruciating kidney stone pain.
You are in Dominican Republic. Scary right? Actually…no.
Kidney stones are never fun – but here in the DR, getting swift, modern medical care is as easy as heading to a good emergency room. My husband Mel suffers from chronic kidney stone issues. Every few months (for many years), he’d be back in hospital: either in Canada or the DR. It was always some type of procedure, be it surgery or just pain management.
The history of Mel’s medical situation, as well as the stories of many other expats have taught us an important point about health and medical care in the Dominican Republic:
You can expect the same level of professional health services that you get in the United States or Canada – sometimes even better – with no wait times (Canada) and at a much lower cost (US).
Health care in the Dominican Republic offers state of the art equipment and well trained medical staff. Our local hospital Centro Medico Cabarete (pictured above) is a 5 minute drive from my house. It has surgical suites and an MRI machine. The managing doctor is a neurosurgeon. A half hour away in Puerto Plata is a larger hospital called Centro Medico Bournigal, and 1.5 hours away in Santiago are several other hospitals, including HOMS Hospital: a bohemith that would rival any large facility in the US or Canada. This hospital has a cancer treatment centre, cardio centre, and robotic surgery.
The Dominican has actually become a destination for medical and plastic surgeries because of the quality of care and reasonable cost. In any of these facilities you can expect English speaking doctors, many of whom are trained in countries from around the world. My husband’s DR urologist, Dr. Crespo, is the doctor who finally cracked the code on how to minimize his continuous stone issues.
Do I Need Health Insurance? How Much Will It Cost?
For our Canadian buyers the thought of “buying” health insurance is a foreign concept. We are used to having free health care paid for by our tax dollars. For our American buyers, buying insurance is a normal part of life, but their first worry is how much it costs.
In the Dominican Republic, public hospital care is free; however, these facilities are not up to the North American standards. Most foreigners opt to use one of the many private clinics and hospitals which offer top notch levels of care. These facilities are not free; however, Americans are shocked at the affordability compared to the US.
Here For a Few Months Per Year? Opt For A Medical Insurance Plan
If you are here three months or less, then your travel insurance likely has a rider you can purchase to cover you. For longer periods, it’s wise to purchase a medical plan. What do health plan cost and what do they cover?
Well, that’s a large question; there are many providers and lots of different plans. It depends on if you want. If you opt for 100% coverage this obviously costs more than 70%. Some people want dental and vision care included. As an example, Mel and I pay $1400/US per year for us both. We have 80% coverage. This means we are presented with a bill (they have ranged from $3 to $80) upon release from a hospital – otherwise everything is covered. We could have chosen 100% coverage for $1800/year, but we feel our current plan works for us.
Our coverage is through a company called Humano – if you follow this link and let Google translate the page, you can see all their plans and what they cover. This is one of many companies, and a good insurance agent will shop for the best plan for you. Another popular provider is Universal Health.
Health Care Can Impact Real Life
For many of our American buyers, the escalating cost of health care in the United States is seriously impacting their abilities to get good treatment, and certainly impacting the quality of their eventual retirement. The reasonable cost of good health care in the Dominican Republic offers a tangible alternative as they get older. For Canadians, the cost is minimal and there are zero wait times. Many of our clients come here for specific surgeries that they are on a waiting list for in Canada.
For most of our buyers, the DR offers a more healthful, simpler way of life. They simply feel better here.
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