Articles Related to Medical tourism in belize

Now, healthcare options in this country are improving, and the government has made this a priority. Specifically, the government has set medical tourism as an agenda, recognizing this as an important potential source of visitors and revenues and understanding that real world-standard medical care is a top priority for retirees.

Step one in the related efforts to developing medical tourism in Belize has been to task the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (Beltraide) to make a plan. Beltraide has brought in a consultant from Costa Rica to help create a blueprint based on the successful development of medical tourism in that country.

healthcare in Ambergris Caye Belize

The basics of a program have been outlined:

  • Belizean medical hospitals and clinics will be upgraded to meet accredited international healthcare standards...
  • Medical tourism facilities will be established throughout the country so that a patient anywhere in the country could be delivered to a critical care facility within 30 minutes. This will necessitate improvements in road and air infrastructure...
  • 24-hour critical care hospitals will be established on Ambergris Caye and in Placencia...
  • International medical specialists will be allowed to practice in Belize but will be required to work jointly with and to train Belizean doctors...
  • International doctors who elect to come to the country to work with new medical tourism facilities will enjoy special income tax and import duty breaks. The timing is perfect to attract disenchanted American doctors to come and open facilities in Belize...
  • A new medical school will be opened, probably near Belmopan...
  • Hotels/resorts catering to medical tourists will be required to have trained nurses on staff...
  • Belizean doctors will be incentivized to return to Belize and practice here...

Meantime, progress is being made on the ground already:

  • The Belize government has identified and secured rights to purchase property on Ambergris Caye for the location of the planned future 24-hour critical care hospital. Services at the San Pedro Polyclinic have been upgraded. Doctors are on call at all hours.
  • The first open-heart surgery ever to be performed in Belize took place last year. Several heart surgeries were performed by a Belizean physician, Dr. Adrian Coye, who moved back to Belize to initiate such services about two years ago. Dr. Coye worked with an integrated team of international heart surgeons and Belizeans doctors at Karl Huesner Medical Hospital in Belize City.
  • The first ever complex scoliosis surgery was performed in Belize in the summer of 2012. That surgery was performed by Dr. Joel Cervantes, Chief of the Spine and Neurosurgery Center at Karl Huesner Medical Hospital, where the surgery took place, and President of Belize's Medical and Dental Association. Dr. Cervantes and his team worked with a team of peers from Canada and the United States.

Separate from medical tourism, there are a number of advantages related to healthcare in Belize that expats should consider, in looking at the big picture:

The price is reasonable, and doctors are accessible.

Doctors in Belize treat patients with compassion and spend whatever time is needed to understand your healthcare issue. A doctor in Belize will give his patient his personal cell phone number. Most of the doctors are general practitioners, meaning they are well versed in a broad range of healthcare problems. They are similar to the American doctors of 50 years ago, when doctors regularly visited sick patients at their home.

You can visit a clinic here in the morning for X-rays or blood tests and have the results by that afternoon. Similarly, dentists often perform much of the necessary services at their offices. And my optometrist makes my new prescription glasses on-site within a few hours. We're used to same-day service in Belize.

Many drugs are available to purchase over the counter, without a prescription.

My personal experience with healthcare as an expat in this country for more than five years? Frankly, it has far exceeded my expectations. I had to have emergency hip surgery two years ago. To be honest, I was nervous, even scared. But I had no choice. The surgery had to be done immediately.

And it was, in Belize City. The care I received was, frankly, outstanding, and the outcome of the surgery was everything I could have hoped for. I'm as mobile as ever!

Ann Kuffner
Live and Invest in Belize Conference Insider

Editor's Note: A representative from Beltraide made a presentation to the group at last week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference in Belize City, detailing the plan for improving healthcare in this country and for developing medical tourism facilities here. This presentation, along with all other presentations of the two-and-a-half-day event, was recorded and is being included as part of the all-new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit, available for 24 hours more only for the pre-release price of more than 50% off. Details on the Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit are here.Continue Reading:

Image source: Asteiner


Cayo District in Belize

One thing that appealed greatly to Monty about Belize during that first visit years ago was how rugged and rural the country was. Belize is still rugged and rural, but today it also offers many more of the conveniences we take for granted and that most retirees considering international living don't want to give up.

Monty returned to Belize last week to see for himself the differences between Belize today and Belize of 18 years ago. He came to the country this time to participate in last week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference. In fact, though, I met Monty before the conference began, by accident. Monty and I both had appointments with the same dentist last Monday! Our dentist, Dr. Huesner, alternated between working on Monty's bridge and fitting me for a new crown.

At the conference later in the week, Monty explained that the major dental work he was having taken care of while in Belize was paying for his entire trip. Monty had done his homework. He'd found that the three bridges he needed would have cost him US$12,000 in the United States. Dr. Huesner did the work for only US$4,000, saving Monty US$8,000. That was enough to cover the cost of the conference and the two-week vacation in Belize, with money left over.

Monty is a special education teacher planning to retire in June. He grew up on a West Texas ranch, so he appreciates solitude and wide open spaces. He thinks he's going to find the lifestyle he's looking for in the Cayo District, in or around San Ignacio. When the conference concluded on Friday, that's where he headed.

Monty has a lot of experience building and remodeling homes, and he did a lot of research related to building in Belize before this trip. He has a grand scheme. He's going to buy a piece of land and then design a simple Mennonite house. Once that's built, he'll live in it and design a larger home. He'll supervise the construction of both homes and hopes to do much of the work himself. Once he moves into the larger home, he'll convert the small Mennonite house into a stained-glass studio.

Then he'll spend time pursuing his hobby, creating stained-glass art.

Sounds like a great plan to me.

Ann Kuffner
Live and Invest in Belize Conference InsiderContinue Reading:

Image source: Yourexhalekiss


Still, all that negative press is out there. Yet, in the face of it, more visitors are coming to Belize than ever...and more of them than ever are deciding to stay long-term, as retire and to invest.

Here's my take on why:

This is the year the Mayan Calendar ends. That is, we're facing the end of the world. Probably not, in fact, but certainly here in Belize everyone is preparing--not so much for the end of the world as for the End Of The World parties everyone is planning...

Tourists are bypassing Mexico for Belize. This trend is significant, and it is likely long-term. Belize suffers its share of bad press, but Mexico is suffering more, and, so, many tourists are heading to Belize instead of the country to its north. It's also worth noting that more Mexican tourists are visiting Belize than ever...

It's easier to get to Belize thanks to more flight options to and from the country. Delta's entrée into the market has made a difference. And, once the airport in Placencia opens, we can look forward to direct flights from Europe...

All of this has resulted in expanding tourism, even in the off-season. This is the first year in my memory when resort owners have been busy and booked in the off-season months. Some have told me that they are already booked through year-end. Typically, tourism drops off precipitously in Belize after May and doesn't pick up until November, when the rainy season transitions. This year has seen a notable change in this pattern.

As I've mentioned, though, it's not only tourists who are coming in greater numbers but retirees and investors, too. What's driving this growth?

The U.S. HIRE Act. This legislation is driving growing numbers of U.S. citizens to move at least part of their assets beyond U.S. borders. Belize is a friendly jurisdiction for banking, IBCs, and trusts. Plus, it's English-speaking, making it a user-friendly choice for Americans looking for a place to "go offshore"...

Recent commitment to improving medical care and to developing a medical tourism industry. The Belize government is in the process of developing a sustainable medical tourism plan. It would be risky to predict how long it will take to jump start this new industry, but I know several investment groups in the process of applying for the necessary permits. These groups have the funds ready to move forward when they get the green light. Meantime, health care options in this country have improved significantly since I moved here more than four years ago. More specialists and more equipment are available, and 250 young Belizeans are now training overseas to become physicians. And a hospital is finally being planned for Ambergris Caye...

The Four Seasons is coming to Belize. To date, the best accommodation in Belize has been high-end boutique resorts and hotels (mostly on Ambergris Caye). There is currently no five-star international chain resort in the country. That is about to change. The Four Seasons recently bought Caye Chapel. The plan is to build a major resort and conference center on this small "golf island." Bill Gates and the Qatar Sovereign Fund are the investors, so this seems to be the real deal, and it is bolstering investor confidence in this country in general...

Ann KuffnerContinue Reading:

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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