Health Insurance and the Cuban Medical System
As a tenet of the revolution, all Cuban citizens receive 100% free medical care
throughout the island. The Cuban health care system has a reputation for being
very good. Most major cities have large, modern hospitals as well as hundreds of
As a foreigner, you will have to pay for most medical procedures. Prices vary
widely depending on which medical problem you have and which hospital you visit.
While minor problems will be inexpensive, the bills can add up rapidly for more ser-
ious ailments. For this reason, it is always highly recommended to have full medic-
al travel insurance when visiting Cuba. Medical travel insurance is usually avail-
able relatively inexpensively from online-based insurance brokers, and the cost to
have the insurance with zero deductible is usually only nominally more. I always
recommend this option. This will assure you that whatever might happen in Cuba,
you can always visit the best hospital and receive world class service, and your in-
surance will cover the whole bill.
If you do not have insurance and your medical issue is minor, you can usually get
by with simply visiting a local hospital or clinic and paying the doctor on duty a
small sum of money. 5 to 10 CUC will be more than enough to cover a simple con-
sultation and perhaps some bandaging for cuts and scrapes. If your condition is
more serious and you have to be admitted to the hospital, you will officially have to
be registered into the Cuban medical system, and the fees will be higher.
Smaller hospitals in Cuba generally look a bit dated and can sometimes be
crowded. Larger, modern hospitals look very similar to western facilities. In areas
with a high concentration of foreigners, there will usually be a few large hospitals
which specifically cater to non-Cubans. While these facilities offer the most state of
the art services, they will also be the most expensive. If you have insurance, then
definitely go to one of these locations for treatment. If you lack insurance and are
afraid of running up high medical bills, a smaller hospital will usually be most cost
effective, and the service will be similar.
Do You Need Medical Insurance?
While all foreigners visiting Cuba are legally required to have medical insurance
coverage, customs officials almost never verify this information. So, while technic-
ally, insurance is required, in practice, most tourists do not have any when they vis-
it Cuba. In any case, if a situation occurs where you want, or need, to purchase in-
surance after you land in Cuba, you can always do so, at a relatively cheap cost.
Insurance offices located in the arrivals terminals at most Cuban airports will sell
medical insurance for about 3 CUC per day.