Cuba to introduce mandatory medical insurance for travelers

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The Independent Online

Foreign visitors who wish to visit Cuba will be required to purchase state-authorized medical insurance from May 1, according to reports from the country.

The insurance will be on sale from foreign insurers approved by the Cuban authorities, or on arrival at ports of entry to the island. The government measure was disclosed over the weekend in the Official Gazette, the publication of Cuba's Ministry of Justice.

Reports suggest that tourists, foreigners with temporary residence and Cubans living abroad will need to be covered. Pricing for the policy has not been confirmed, although the Official Gazette states that prices will be evaluated by the Minister of Finances and Prices.

The socialist government in Cuba has built one of the most effective healthcare systems in the world - the country has one of the highest life expectancy rates globally and, as a result of the investment in medical schools, one of the highest doctor-to-patient ratios.

This system has led to the country becoming increasingly attractive for "medical tourism." Cubanacan Tourism and Health, the country's official medical tourism body, estimates that 95 percent of hotels have a doctor on the premises and actively promotes the medical work of the country's eight international clinics overseas.

Over 2 million people a year are believed to travel to Cuba.