Cuba is a beautiful island nation that sits in the Caribbean sea, near to the islands of Jamaica and Hispanola.
Americans are fascinated by this island nation and also have a deep and rich history with it and its people.
This is because of the long historical and geographical closeness that exists between the two, but one area where the United States government and the Cuban government differ completely is healthcare.
Cuba has a very different healthcare system from the US, and it is incredibly proud of this system that has been around since the 60s.
It is also one of the features of the Cuban government that other countries look to as a success as well, but just what is it about the Cuban healthcare system that makes it great? Why is it so good?
Things That Make Cuban Healthcare Great
There are a number of reasons why healthcare in Cuba is praised and honestly, it’s hard to see a fault with it, when you compare it to our own.
For starters, healthcare in Cuba is free for everyone. It is not restrictive in who it treats or why, but it is free and under the constitution of Cuba, it is a fundamental human right.
If you are having antibiotics for an infection or a complicated and risky surgery, then it doesn’t matter because it is free.
There are no private clinics or hospitals, instead the entire Cuban government runs and maintains the system.
While this is good, there is some complaint about the fact that the infrastructure and equipment need some updating and modernization.
Another thing to note is that the health indicators of the Cuban people are remarkably high and even on par with far more developed countries.
The life expectancy for Cubans is 79 years old, which is the same as people living in the US, and infant mortality sits at around 4.2 deaths per 1000 births, which is lower than a lot of countries on earth.
Cuba cannot spend as much on healthcare as a lot of the countries that are also high up in the rankings, so it focuses on proactive care, rather than reactive care.
The system constantly sees people and discusses their health, making sure they are preventing problems before they arise to ensure a long life.
The Cuban healthcare system is built upon the fabric of the Cuban community as a whole as well, which helps achieve this proactive care.
There are public clinics dotted around almost every neighborhood in the country and these clinics are small affairs, with normally only a doctor, a nurse, and a social worker who live above the clinic.
These clinics are responsible for everyone in the area, and they will knock on the doors of residents at least once a year to check on them and give them a medical exam to ensure their good health.
This helps with preventative care and also ties into Cuba’s familial culture.
This is only possible because Cuba has the highest number of doctors per population size in the world.
There are 8.2 doctors per 1000 people in Cuba, with the US only having 2.6 per 1000 people.
That means that Cuban doctors are expected to take care of roughly 120 people in their area, compared to roughly 500 people for US doctors.
This sheer number of medical professionals acts as another government arm as well, with many of them going on medical missions around the world.
Currently, there are 28,000 Cuban doctors working abroad on medical missions in other countries.
This does two things for Cuba. It builds experience in those doctors and provides them with the latest medical knowledge from other countries, and it also boosts Cuba’s medical ties with other countries as well, which lets Cuba and other countries advance each others healthcare through cooperative measures
In fact, Cuba’s doctors and medical staff could be called its most valuable resource, as it sends them to different areas of the world in exchange for many things.
Countries where these doctors have been include Venezuela and West Africa during serious medical emergencies, much to the joy of these countries.
This means that the government has every reason to keep the healthcare system running effectively.
This has led to a spree of medical tourism in the country to utilize this effective and great healthcare system at an affordable price for foreigners.
How Can I Access Healthcare In Cuba As A Foreigner?
The healthcare system used by the Cuban people is not going to be the same one you use as a foreigner.
Don’t get us wrong, this does not mean that the care will be worse or that you will be kicked out of a clinic.
It’s just that you will have to use slightly different clinics and pay for it.
This is due to some social reasons, but also because of how Cuban healthcare is set up.
The Cuban system relies on a deep sense of community, where the doctor is completely familiar with the patient and all their problems.
Since foreigners are not a part of this, it doesn’t really work for them.
As such, the Cuban government has a separate system for foreigners called ‘Servimed’.
The Servimed system has more than 40 healthcare centers around the country in an interconnecting network.
This system gives you access to general practitioners, specialists, and Cuba’s advanced medical care as well.
Servimed centers accept walk-ins and often if you are suffering, simply asking for help at a hotel or where you are staying will get you a doctor quickly.
If all else fails, there is free emergency medical care for foreigners as a last resort and only will ask for money after and at a reasonable price.
One problem with Servimed is the lack of pharmaceutical medications.
While the pharmacies do cater to foreigners, they lack some medication, so if you require routine medication, check whether you can bring it with you to Cuba.
If you are visiting Cuba, then you need to get medical insurance, and you should carry the policy for your medical insurance through customs with your visa and passport.
If you get to customs without one, then you will be required to buy a policy with the government company Asistur.
Before you go, you should also make sure you have Asistur’s number.
If you are required to go to the hospital, then you should contact them.
They will handle your health insurance and care while you are there.
Since you would have health insurance, then you should be covered for all expenses in Cuba.
There is normally no tomfoolery from insurance companies as well, if you have the insurance, it will be paid for and done.
If you happen to not have health insurance for whatever reason, then the price of getting healthcare is normally between 33% to 80% lower than that in the states, which still makes it worth it.
Cuba’s healthcare system rivals those of the top healthcare systems in the world, despite the country not being among the world’s top economies.
This is because they have made the system uniquely Cuban and also used it as an international endeavour to not only build their own healthcare’s prestige, but to also advance the healthcare system itself.
As such, the Cuban people are very proud of their healthcare, and rightfully so.