Healthcare guide for expats moving to Cambodia
The social security system in Cambodia covers only a minority of the population. The quality of healthcare in the public sector is also not of a high standard, and while the privates sector is better, it is often necessary to be treated in a different country for complicated treatment or conditions. For these different reasons an international health insurance policy, including repatriation, is strongly recommended for expatriates moving to Cambodia.
This article looks at the Cambodian healthcare system, explains the different health insurance options for expats as well as offering an overview of the average cost of local healthcare.
- Total Population: 15,135,000
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2013): 2,890
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2013): 70/75
- Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2013): 210/157
- Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2013): 135
- Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2013) 5.4
The Cambodian healthcare system
In Cambodia today we can still see the ongoing effect of the war that embroiled the country until the 1990s. Despite efforts to improve the public healthcare system, and efforts to introduce a universal social security system, the healthcare system in Cambodia still retains many structural problems which affect its quality of service.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF), was introduced in 2008, its aim was to provide basic social security to workers in the private sector and their dependants, however the cover is limited to work related accidents. The pension system is only available to civil servants. The introduction of a public healthcare system was planned for 2012, however it has still not been applied. To this day, the NSSF covers only 10% of the working population.
In the absence of an efficient and reliable healthcare system, it is a private health insurance policy is indispensable in Cambodia.
In regards to the quality of care, the public hospitals are generally underequipped and greatly below the standards of Western hospitals.
The private hospitals offer a better quality of care but do not necessarily have the specialists or the equipment on-site to treat certain medical conditions. In the event of a complicated medical condition, it is recommended to seek treatment outside of Cambodia (e.g. Bangkok in Thailand, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam or in China or in Singapour), or even request repatriation to your country of origin. Even though healthcare costs are very low in Cambodia, the services offered can be very limited depending on where you are. This increases the possibility of needing a medical evacuation which could lead to an extremely high medical bill.
For these different reasons it is indispensable to have a private health insurance policy including evacuation and/or repatriation, so that costs related to an evacuation as well as medical costs from outside of Cambodia are covered by your policy. Please be aware that your health insurance policy will only cover an evacuation/repatriation in the case of emergencies. If you wanted your day-to-day healthcare costs to be covered outside of Cambodia, you would need to have an international health insurance.
International health insurance
An international health insurance allows you to be covered in the medical centre of your choice and/or with the doctor of your choice within Cambodia and in multiple other countries (within your zone of cover). Furthermore, if you leave Cambodia and choose to move to a different country you have the choice of taking your health insurance with you.
It is equally important to check with your insurance company or with your employer that your policy includes evacuation and/or repatriation, and the conditions of the cover. Some companies include only an evacuation to the nearest centre of medical excellence equipped to deal with your condition, whilst other companies can repatriate you back to your country of origin.
International health insurance policies are also know by the name ‘1st sterling’ (or ‘1st euro’/ ‘1st dollar’ depending on the currency you have chosen) this is because they cover your costs from the 1st pound spent.
Please be aware that no matter what type of insurance you choose, it is up to you to ensure that your policy is in line with any local laws or regulations.
Example medical costs
The costs indicated below relate only to the private sector.
Consultation with a GP or specialist: the cost can vary greatly. Doctors can charge between $5 and $100 (£3.43 -£68.51/4.59€ – 91.84€*) or even more depending their surgery. As a general rule, consultation costs tend to be lower in clinics, however are often accompanied by many tests (x-rays, scans etc.)
Please see below for a general idea of costs in doctors’ surgeries in Phnom Penh as recommended by the French Embassy, a consultation with a GP or specialist would cost $35 (£23.98/32.14€). In the Khema Clinic, the cost of a consultation would be $25 (£17.13/22.96€). At the CT Polyclinic in Sihanoukville the cost would be $50 (£34.25/45.92€). At the International SOS clinic, a GP consultation would be around $61 to $88 (£41.79 – £60.29/ 56.09€ – 80.91€), depending on the treating doctor.
Consultation with a dentist: at the European dental clinic in Phnom Penh, the cost of a dental consultation is $25 (£17.13/22.96€). A porcelain crown on a metallic base would cost around $470 (£322.78/432.14€) and an entirely porcelain crown would cost $650 (£446.40/597.65€) At the International Dental Clinic in Phnom Penh, a consultation costs between £15 and $25 (£10.30-£17.13/13.79€-22.96€), the cost of a crown is around $150 to $350 (£103.02-£240.37/137.92€-321.81€).
Cost of an overnight hospital stay in an individual room: In a private Cambodian hospital an this would cost in the region of $120 – $150 (106€ – 133€). International hospitals will be more expensive, for example the International SOS medical clinic, an overnight stay in a three-bed room will cost in the region of $650 (574€). (Please note that these costs do not include diagnostic or treatment costs)
*Exchange rate January 2016
No vaccinations of required for entry into Cambodia, however it is recommended to confirm that your primary courses and boosters are up to date.
- Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid.
- Other vaccines to consider: Cholera; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis; Rabies.
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate requiredfor travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
The above information comes from NHS-Fit-for-Travel website, for more information please see their site.
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