An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Senegal
Are you researching an expat health insurance for Senegal? It is important to learn about the local healthcare system first.
Whether you are moving to Senegal or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide to the Senegalese healthcare system, your different options of medical insurance for Senegal and an overview of the average cost of local healthcare.
- Total population (2017): 15.85 million
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2017): 2,620
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2016): 65/69
- Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2016): 222/153
- Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2014): 107
- Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2014): 4.7
Healthcare in Senegal for expats
The Social Security Fund of Senegal (Caisse de sécurité sociale or CSS) provides family benefits (prenatal and maternity benefits etc.), benefits for work-related accidents, occupational diseases and income protection against serious illness, disability or bereavement.
The CSS does not support healthcare needs outside of employment. Instead, health insurance in Senegal is managed by other organisations, each one depending on the category of the population:
- Employees of private companies are covered by their company’s health insurance (health insurance institutions or instituts de prévoyance maladie, also known as IPM). It is obligatory for employers to be affiliated. Spouses and children of employees are also covered.
- Public sector employees and their spouses/children: medical expenses are contributed 4/5 by the state. The remaining 20% of costs are at their expense.
- People over 60 years old and children under five receive free healthcare through a public medical assistance scheme.
- Self-employed people as well as workers from the informal sector are insured through private health insurance.
Until recently, having health insurance was not obligatory and a large majority of the population was not covered at all. Those registered either through their employer or the state were in the minority.
In 2013 Senegal implemented reform for compulsory health insurance (assurance maladie obligatoire or AMO), introducing universal health coverage with the aim of covering 75% of the population by 2017. This measure mainly targets people living in rural areas and informal workers.
Senegalese health insurance for expats
If you are resident in Senegal and an employee of a local or international company based in Senegal, you will benefit from the company’s health insurance. If you are self-employed, you must take out a private health insurance. Foreigners over 60 years of age can not benefit from the free health insurance plan, as it is reserved for nationals only.
Regarding the subscription process with a company health insurance, two months of contributions must be proven in order to be entitled to benefits from the Senegalese social security system. It will therefore be necessary to subscribe to private insurance for these first two months.
If you are an employee seconded from a company in your home country, check with your local social security office to find out whether you will be kept within their system during the time you will be in Senegal.
What is the level of cover provided by companies’ health insurance schemes ?
Senegalese health insurance institutions (which provide health insurance schemes in the corporate sector) cover 40 to 80% of medical, pharmaceutical and hospital expenses. The rest is the responsibility of the policy holder. Policy holders can only access healthcare within their health insurance’s network of health providers. Therefore, private insurance will be necessary in order to have a wider choice of facilities for treatment and a 100% reimbursement rate of health expenses.
What is the quality of healthcare in Senegal?
Despite the effort to establish universal health coverage, Senegal faces difficulties with the provision of care. Senegal has only 0.6 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. In comparison, Morocco has 6.2 doctors per 10,000 and France has 31.9.
The number of doctors in Senegal is very unequally distributed: 70% of doctors and 80% of pharmacists and dentists are based in the capital city of Dakar. The problem of understaffing and lack of infrastructure is a serious issue outside of the capital. There are also inequalities between public and private healthcare facilities.
The quality of care in Dakar is generally much better than elsewhere in the country; however, hospitals in Dakar do not necessarily have medical technologies or specialist doctors for the treatment of some complex or rare medical conditions. In this case, it would be necessary to travel abroad for treatment. Many expats or nationals who can afford it subscribe to international medical insurance for these reasons.
International health insurance for expats in Senegal
An international health insurance is generally the type of medical coverage most suited to the expat lifestyle in Senegal.
An international health insurance gives you the opportunity to seek treatment in the medical facility of your choice or with the doctor you choose, whether in Senegal or abroad. Choosing an international insurance with a coverage area beyond Senegal is the best option for people preferring to seek treatment abroad or in their country of origin in case of a specific medical problem.
With international health insurance, if you decide to seek treatment in your country of origin or another country in the case of a specific treatment, your medical expenses will be covered. Moreover, if after Senegal you move to another country, your expat health insurance can follow you, unlike a Senegalese health insurance which is only valid locally.
Medical evacuation and repatriation insurance
In Senegal, it is important that your insurance policy includes evacuation or repatriation cover. If you travel to an area where health services are limited or if you contract a complex pathology that can not be treated in Dakar, evacuation to a health centre that can treat you will be at your expense. Taking out evacuation/repatriation assistance will cover travel expenses to the nearest medical centre of excellence. Some evacuation assistance also offers repatriation to the country of origin of the insured person.
What is the best health insurance for expats in Senegal?
The best health insurance in Senegal for one expat might not be the best for you, as everyone has different needs and criteria.
In order to find which one is the best health insurance in Senegal for you, it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Senegal, alongside other parameters.
How much does healthcare cost in Senegal?
At Dakar’s main hospital, which is a public institution, the price of a consultation with a GP is 5,460 CFA francs (about $9 USD or £7). The price of a consultation with a specialist is 10,000 CFA francs ($17 or £13). A day of hospitalisation in a single room is 28,000 CFA francs ($48 or £38).
In the private sector, the cost of a hospital room can be 50,000 CFA francs ($87 or £67). Be aware that this does not include the cost of treatments, which can amount to several thousand dollars/pounds depending on the medical condition being treated.
The price of a consultation with a GP in the private sector is around 10,000 – 20,000 CFA francs ($17-$34 or £13 – £27). The price of a consultation with a specialist doctor in the private sector is on average 15,000 – 25,000 CFA francs ($26 – $43 or £20 – £33).
How much does health insurance cost in Senegal?
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of medical insurance for expats in Senegal varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age and the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters.
As a general idea, here are examples of individual international health insurance rates for Senegal.
These quotes were compiled from two international health insurance companies: British and French respectively, and both practice mid-range prices.
Examples of costs of an individual health insurance in Senegal for a person of 35 years old, issued by a British insurance company. This insurance is valid worldwide except in the United States:
|Without dental||With dental|
|Without deductible||$3295 or £2567||$3822 or £2977|
|Deductible of $255 or £200 per year||$2442 or £1902||$2834 or £2207|
Expat Assure can give you a personalised comparison of several international health insurance packages. Do not hesitate to ask for your insurance comparison.
A vaccination certificate against yellow fever is recommended for all travellers, and compulsory for those coming from an infected area. It is recommended to have an up-to-date vaccination schedule. Vaccinations against hepatitis B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis and typhoid may be advised depending on the conditions of your stay.
Senegal is a country at risk for malaria. Before departure, consult a doctor or your nearest travel vaccination health advice service centre.
Some medicines are banned in Senegal, including hypnotics and antidepressants. The possession of these drugs must be justified by a doctor’s prescription, or you may risk being accused of possessing a narcotic product.
Malick Sy firefighters: +221 33 823 03 59
SOS Medecin Senegal (ambulance service): +221 33 889 15 15
For hospital emergencies, it is necessary to contact the hospitals directly.
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Visitors staying for more than 6 months in the UK must pay an ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’. Since Brexit, European citizens are also included.