The Bahamian lifestyle sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it? Right next to the US there is a tropical paradise with a financial center and very low taxes — what could go wrong?
Well, even in a beach paradise accidents happen, children need immunizations and we all occasionally get sick. Thanfully, The Bahamas has a good (and improving) healthcare system to take care of these eventualities.
Without an option to pay into the national health insurance system, expats should definitely consider buying a private health insurance plan in The Bahamas. This is not like parts of southern Europe or Asia where you could get by paying as you go.
Here you’ll find everything you need to consider and watch out for when deciding on Bahamian health insurance for your family — from costs to essential options and trusted providers.
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Do Expats in The Bahamas Need Private Health Insurance
The short answer is yes. Health insurance in The Bahamas is a very good idea for expats.
Emergency room visits can run over $100 even without an overnight stay, and prescription medications can be as expensive as they would be in the US or Canada. Most specialized hospital services will be only 30-40% cheaper than they would be in the US.
It’s also important to note that, even if you are insured, both public and private hospitals and clinics in The Bahamas will usually require upfront payment for their services. You’ll then have to seek reimbursement from your insurance company.
How Does Healthcare Vary by Island
Like many things in The Bahamas, your access to healthcare will depend partly on where you choose to live. Specifically:
- Nassau (and therefore New Providence Island) is well served by both public and private hospitals. Doctor’s Hospital (a private option) is the most up-to-date and well-respected. Prescription medications are widely available, including from pharmacy chains like Lowe’s.
- Rand Memorial Hospital is the main option in Freeport on Grand Bahama. There are fewer chains here and prescriptions may be harder to come by.
- On the Out Islands, healthcare is more ad hoc. Walk-in clinics might only be open on certain days of the week and emergency services might be provided by volunteers.
Popular Options in The Bahamas for Health Insurance Coverage
With a thriving expat community, The Bahamas has attracted the attention of many top international insurance companies. Top options are:
- Pacific Prime is a solid choice for expats living and working in Nassau who
wantinternational medical coverage.
- BahamaHealth is a homegrown option that specializes in plans that focus on supplemental care in The Bahamas.
- CignaGlobal is a major international company that specializes in expat health insurance worldwide. Their services cover The Bahamas.
- First Care Medical Plan is a more affordable option that is a good choice if you’re looking for a low monthly fee and don’t mind paying for some of your care.
Costs for Health Insurance in The Bahamas
There is a wide range in the price of health insurance for expats in The Bahamas. It will largely depend on things like:
- Whether you want coverage for treatment just in The Bahamas or also internationally.
- Your age when you apply to start coverage.
- Pre-existing conditions or in some cases conditions that arise shortly after coverage starts.
- Spouses or dependent children who you also want to cover.
- Coverage for things like medications, dental and eyewear charges.
A basic, bare-bones plan that will only cover you for in-patient care within The Bahamas might run $50 per month. On the other hand, a gold-plated plan for a family of four can be up to $1,000 per month.
In other words, it pays to shop around and pay careful attention to the details — including exclusions. And you want to know what you’re covered for when you have to make important decisions about care.
Coverage for Care in the US
One of the greatest selling features of The Bahamas for expats is the close proximity to the US. Usually, that just means that it’s easier to visit friends and family in North America or to get in a dose of big city life before returning to island pace.
The Bahamas has improved its healthcare system over the past decade, but many expats still rely on treatment in the US as a backstop in an emergency. Keep in mind how expensive emergency evacuation would be and the high price tag for treatment in an American hospital when you are shopping for a plan.
These plans are usually labeled international medical care to distinguish them from the local insurance that will only cover you within the Bahamian system.
Health Insurance in The Bahamas Explained
A good starting point is to accept that private health insurance in The Bahamas is a necessity for expats. You’ll then want to find a plan that works for you and meets your family’s needs. Some things to consider include:
- Providers vary between large, international operations and ones that specialize in The Bahamas (or the Caribbean). If you move frequently for work or plan on keeping up the expat lifestyle, the former might be more suitable.
- Coverage for treatment and emergency evacuation to the US is a popular option but will, obviously, increase your premium.
- Even with insurance, you’ll have to pay up-front for medical services and prescriptions in The Bahamas.
- Unless your budget is very high (perhaps because your employer is paying) you might have to shop around and choose specific coverage options rather than an out-of-the-box solution.
- When relocating to The Bahamas, pay attention to when your traveler’s health insurance coverage ends to know when you’ll need to have a new policy in place by. Nothing puts a damper on a move to a new place like having to pay for unexpected medical care out-of-pocket.
Good health insurance in The Bahamas is a vital part of your family’s well-being and your own peace-of-mind. But it can definitely seem expensive if you are coming from a place with high taxes and universal medical coverage.
Get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you work through the process of finding a plan that is right for you.