Given that the Caribbean consists of many different islands, each with their own ways of doing things and rules and regulations, this article will just focus on a couple of the islands, starting with Jamaica.
Healthcare in Jamaica is free to all legal residents and citizens and can be obtained at government hospitals and doctors surgeries. The good thing is that prescription drugs are included for free, however there are drawbacks. There are long waiting lines as appointments are not made; it’s a first come, first served basis, and although free, prescriptions are not easy to obtain. You can sometimes expect to find anything from 20 to 40 people queuing outside a surgery waiting for it to open but many still may not get seen.
Drugs are not always in stock at some surgeries and when this happens, the patient must either go without or go to a drugstore and pay, which many of them can’t afford to do. If you are moving to Jamaica from the UK, the wisest thing to do would be to purchase medical insurance, though it is likely that, unless you have previously taken out health insurance with a Jamaican company before your 65th birthday, you won’t be able to get insurance if you are over the age of 65.
Barbados has long been known as one of the healthiest places in the world and its healthcare reflects this. The island itself is relaxing and spiritually healing, one quality which attracts visitors in their thousands every single year who are looking for an alternative healing power to traditional medicines.
Barbados has a very high standard of healthcare and it is accessible to all on the island. There is a primary hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which has beds for over 600 patients and also offers specialist treatment in plastic surgery, radiology, paediatrics and much more. The island also boasts a further 8 government Polyclinics which provide free treatment for minor ailments, as well as 5 geriatric hospitals for elderly people and a host of child care facilities.
If you are visiting the island and become ill it is advised that you see a local doctor who will then be able to give you a prescription, a list of doctors can be found in the Yellow Pages and you can visit any one of them. Private and state run medical centres throughout Barbados have very good standards of healthcare and the reciprocal agreement that the country has with the UK will entitle you to free healthcare if you live there.
Prescriptions are free for children and the elderly, but have to be paid for by everybody else. In order to receive free treatment you simply need to show your UK passport of an NHS medical card, along with your entry permit to the country. It is not necessary to take out private medical insurance, though you can if you feel that is what you would prefer, or if you are working in Barbados and the company provides it. It is important to note that dental work is not included free of charge, it will bear a cost for all patients.try