health-care-system-developed-countriesConsisting of more than 700 islands, the Caribbean region is home to picturesque sea beaches, high mountains, charming natural wonders, and a large expat community.

In addition to this, the region offers an excellent healthcare system and education facilities. Every region from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Columbia to the Bahamas has distinct geography, climate, and access to health care systems and other infrastructure.

Places like the Bahamas and Cuba have excellent public health care systems as well as private hospitals, whereas Jamaica has relatively limited access to treatments and medicines. This article will give you a glimpse of the Caribbean healthcare system – medical facilities available, health insurance for expats, other services, and more.

Caribbean Healthcare System for Expats

If you are an expat planning to move to the Caribbean, you should consider getting comprehensive healthcare insurance. Additionally, you should also keep some cash in hand, as few hospitals and clinics may ask you for payments first. Therefore, before you buy your insurance coverage, make sure you consider all these factors.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas is a major tourist hub for international travelers and home to many expats looking to enjoy their retirement in the sun. It makes sense, then, that the nation has a reputation for offering the best healthcare in the Caribbean. In 2021, the World Health Organization found that the country’s health expenditure was seven percent of its GDP.

Everyone can access the facilities in three main public hospitals in Nassau and Freeport, including a range of care from maternity to surgery. There are also two private hospitals. There is a network of clinics across the other islands, however services may not be available seven days a week. However, emergency response teams (staffed by volunteers) are in operation.

There is no public health scheme foreign nationals can contribute to, but health insurance is available to cover emergency treatment. It is still advisable to have sufficient cash with you, as the hospital may require payment upfront. You might also want to ensure your policy covers evacuation or repatriation, as certain conditions may require treatment elsewhere.


Cuba has a thriving medical tourism industry and excellent facilities for private patients. You will find some of the best hospitals in the Caribbean Havana, the capital city, while standards in less urban areas tend to vary. Having a comprehensive insurance plan and also ensuring you have enough cash to cover treatment or evacuation is worthwhile, as upfront payment may be necessary. The standard of facilities and availability of healthcare services can be inconsistent across the country. Additionally, it may be best to bring any medication you need with you (accompanied by a prescription and letter from your doctor explaining your need for them) as many medicines aren’t freely available.


The standards in private and public medical facilities in Jamaica can vary. The best hospitals on this Caribbean island are around the tourist areas like Montego Bay and the capital, Kingston, and cater adequately for most ailments. Primary health care is delivered through a network of clinics and regional centers, and the country houses the University Hospital of the West Indies, 24 public hospitals, and ten private facilities. The World Health Organization published data showing that Jamaica also had a health expenditure of seven percent of its GDP in 2021.

Similar to visiting other Caribbean islands, expats may benefit from a comprehensive health insurance plan and cash on hand to pay for treatment if necessary.

Dominican Republic

Private medical facilities in the Dominican Republic offer a level of treatment and care similar to those in developed countries. Standards in other hospitals may vary, however. In some cases, treatment may need to be paid for upfront. Besides access to some of the best medical care in the Caribbean, expats may benefit from comprehensive health care insurance that covers repatriation or evacuation for certain conditions.

VA Caribbean Healthcare System

The VA Caribbean Healthcare System provides healthcare services to Veterans at 11 locations. Teams are guided by Veterans, their families, and caregivers. The VA Caribbean Healthcare System offers a wide range of health, support, and facility services for Veterans in Puerto Rico, Saint Thomas, and Saint Croix, including primary care, mental health care, specialty care, and social programs and services.

More on healthcare in the Caribbean

There are many different cultures, governments, political histories, and populations in the Caribbean. As such, the standards of medical facilities can vary from island to island. The area is home to many expats, and good quality health care is available. You can learn more about which Caribbean island has the best hospitals in our articles on Caribbean healthcare:

All you need to know about the Caribbean Passport: Obtaining Citizenship by Investment

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Emergency Contacts in the Caribbean

This section provides some helpful emergency contact details in the Caribbean.

  • Aruba: 911
  • Barbados: 115, 119 (Ambulance), 113, 119 (Fire), and  112, 119 (Police)
  • Belize: 911
  • Bermuda: 911
  • Cayman Islands: 911
  • Costa Rica: 911
  • Cuba: 26811
  • Haiti: 118 (Ambulance), 114 (Police)
  • St Kitts & Nevis: 911

Health Insurance in the Caribbean for Expats

Expats in the Caribbean should ideally opt for Global Insurance Coverage. There are various insurance companies that provide international health care plans applicable to private health clinics. So before moving to a country in the Caribbean, you should go through several healthcare plans and choose the one that best suits you.

Access to Caribbean Healthcare System


To determine which Caribbean islands have the best healthcare, it is essential that you do your research thoroughly.

Below are a few things that you need to search for:

  • The best hospitals in the area
  • Access to universal healthcare for expats
  • Facilities that are available in the area
  • Access to a general practitioner
  • Inpatient and outpatient care
  • Availability of specialized treatments and emergency care
  • Evacuation or repatriation option if treatment isn’t satisfactory locally

How to obtain a Caribbean passport?


If you plan on relocating to the Caribbean, you may be interested in obtaining citizenship to fully enjoy the excellent benefits of living in the Caribbean. Although every country has an individual set of guidelines as per their citizenship program, in general, in return for citizenship, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Make a financial investment
  • Pass a detailed background check
  • Be in good health condition and be of good character
  • Share the necessary paperwork against the investment made
  • Swear an oath of allegiance

Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs



Investment cost [single applicant]

Investment cost [family of 4]

Family eligibility

Time until Citizenship

Visa-free travel countries

Antigua and Barbuda



Spouse, children, dependent parents, grandparents and siblings

3-4 months

 Over 140 countries including the EU, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia

St Lucia



Spouse, children, dependent parents and siblings

3-4 months

Over 140 countries including the EU, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong




Spouse, children, dependent parents, grandparents

2-3 months

Over 140 countries including the EU, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Russia

St. Kitts and Nevis



Spouse, children, dependent parents

4 months

Over 140 countries including the EU, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia




Spouse, children, dependent parents, grandparents and siblings

3- 4 months

Over 140 countries including the EU, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Russia

Take a look at out Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Comparison Guide

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Frequently Asked Questions about Caribbean Healthcare

Does the Caribbean have good healthcare?

The Caribbean offers excellent healthcare facilities to the expat community. Places like the Bahamas, Cuba, Barbados, and St Lucia have improved access to modern healthcare infrastructure, support, and resources. The US Virgin Islands could be the Caribbean island with best medical facilities due to modern hospitals, well-equipped clinics, and access to advanced medical technologies as a US territory. There is also the VA Caribbean Healthcare System that offers comprehensive health care for veterans through VA facilities located in San Juan and the US Virgin Islands.

Which Caribbean countries have the best healthcare?

The following countries in the Caribbean have the best healthcare system.

  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Cayman Islands
  • Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • St Lucia

Does Jamaica have good healthcare?

The private and public healthcare system is quite efficient in Jamaica. Although private hospitals in the country offer standard services, they are very expensive. 

How can foreigners access healthcare services in the Caribbean?

Both public and private medical facilities are available in the Caribbean and offer different types of healthcare. Primary health care is delivered through regional clinics and centers. It is generally advisable for expats to ensure they have Global Insurance Coverage that will allow them to access private hospitals.

What are the vaccination requirements for traveling to the Caribbean?

Requirements may vary depending on the island you intend to visit. Generally speaking, the following vaccinations are recommended: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), chickenpox, polio, and influenza. Travelers should secure travel insurance policies that cover evacuation for practical issues related to the Caribbean health care system, such as a lack of facilities for emergency and specialized treatment.

What is the availability of specialist medical services in the Caribbean?

Health care in the Caribbean is provided through various medical facilities that range from basic clinics to larger, more advanced hospitals with specialized treatments and procedures. Each island has a different level of expertise in medical care, which can mean evacuation to another island with more advanced medical facilities. Some consider Barbados as the best Caribbean island for healthcare due to its well-developed medical infrastructure, high-quality facilities, and skilled healthcare professionals in minor health issues and chronic diseases.

It is essential to research whether the type of facility you need access to (such as a community living center, general practice, VA Caribbean facility, or fully equipped hospital) is available on the island you are visiting.

Is health care free in the Caribbean?

The cost of Caribbean healthcare systems varies from country to country. While some hospitals and Caribbean health clinics offer free or subsidized healthcare to citizens in certain countries like Barbados and Cuba, it is not universal across the region. Other parts of the Caribbean, like the US Virgin Islands, provide a combination of public and private facilities, depending on citizenship status.

What Caribbean islands have VA hospitals?

The Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System (VACHS) administers healthcare services for retired war veterans, their dependents family members, and caregivers, through VA hospitals located in three Caribbean islands, including long-term care units in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St Croix and St Thomas of the US Virgin Islands. VA benefits ensure eligible individuals receive the necessary medical care and support tailored to their specific needs.

What country has the worst hospitals in the Caribbean?

Decades of political instability, economic hardship, and natural disasters have severely strained Haiti’s healthcare infrastructure, leading to the country having the worst hospitals in the Caribbean