Affordable, Attractive Health Care in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic health care services are super affordable, but the standard can be poor in some areas. Although health care in the Dominican Republic is improving. In some areas, such as laser surgery, the country is well-ahead of its neighbors and attracts a sizeable number of health tourists. Dental services are also considered as very good value, with good service at reasonable prices.
Health Care services In The Dominican republic Service are two-tier, with government-sponsored free care available to all that is well below First World standards. Facilities, personnel and medicines are often lacking at the government clinics. Patients will often need to provide their own supplies (down the bedding). Friends and family tend to look after them when it comes to meals and the like.
Santo Domingo has first-rate private hospitals and clinics with top-notch technology and amenities. This is also true for the Dominican Republic’s other major city, Santiago. Their staff is mostly bilingual and highly educated (mainly in the United States). These hospitals will perform organ transplants and other major surgeries. They also have psychiatric care.
Many key tourist areas are home to high-class facilities. The Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, and Sosúa are prime examples. These clinics offer some of the best health care in the Dominican Republic for expats. These facilities are not as large as those in Santo Domingo and Santiago, nor do they have all of the amenities and technology. They do however, provide quality care and staff will most likely speak English. These facilities can be more expensive.
Healthcare in the Regions
Outside the major cities and tourist areas, the quality of public health care drops considerably. Once you leave the capital, even emergency services can range from limited to non-existent. There is one public facility in each province of the country. These are average at best and often suggested only for emergencies. It is rare that the staff will speak English at these facilities.
One exception is Las Terrenas, which has a brand-new hospital, Centro Galeno Integral, complete with ICU. The facility is modern and clean. Expats treated at the facility for everything from a broken ankle to kidney failure all report excellent service and great prices. This hospital would be able to meet almost all medical needs. Expats in Las Terrenas don’t need to travel for medical care.
Every town has between three and five local clinics. These are a step up from the public clinics, but less expensive than the tourist-area facilities. It is unlikely staff will speak English, but you’ll receive quality care for day-to-day medical concerns.
General practitioners or family doctors are relatively uncommon in the Dominican Republic. Most physicians consider themselves specialists. Newcomers are advised to select an internist and treat that doctor as you would a GP. He or she will refer you to other specialists as needed. Some patients select a specific clinic and rely on the various specialties within that practice. Word-of-mouth is generally the best way to select a clinic.
In early 2016, the Canadian government warned travelers to the Dominican Republic. It received reports of overcharging, variable pricing and unnecessary hospital stays. This is true for physicians contracted to large tourist resorts. The guidance said travelers entering a hospital should request English-speaking assistance at the desk before admission. This ensures that patients understand procedures, processes, and pricing.
Emergency Services in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has emergency services for fire, police and Red Cross ambulances, but they are not always reliable. Often, a faster and more economic service are taxis if no medical care is necessary en route. Private, nationwide ambulance service, ProMed, operates in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, and La Romana. ProMed expects full payment at the time of transport. There are pharmacies in the larger cities that stay open 24 hours. They also offer home delivery service for people who need medication in urgent situations.
Health Insurance in the Dominican Republic
People who work in the Dominican Republic and earn less than RD$4,000 a month make social security contributions through their paychecks. They are automatically entitled to government health care services. Also, many employers provide something called an “Iguala.” It is in essence a monthly subscription to use the services of a specific clinic at no cost.
Local health insurance is available and comes in various types. Some plans reimburse for expenses, including certain medications, and after-the-fact. They ask for their service in cash at the time of implementation. Others are a co-payment style system. Patients pay a certain amount out-of-pocket and the physician or clinic will bill insurance for the remainder. Many of the policies available through employers work on an individual basis at virtually the same cost. Still, the premium is usually paid a year in advance instead of monthly.
Foreign insurance carriers (like the U.S.) are also available to residents of the Dominican Republic.