*disclaimer- I am not an expert on this topic (or really ANY topic) and have had little need for, or experience with, medical care in Belize. These are my opinions, formed through my limited scope of exposure to Belize’s healthcare system.
A major concern that many people who are considering a move abroad have is the quality of healthcare available in a particular country or area. Not just quality but cost and ease to access are all important factors to take in to account. My mother had (probably still has) major reservations about us moving her grandson to Belize and a main point of contention was health services.
We are very fortunate to all be in very good health (touch wood!) and typically in need of nothing more than regular wellness services. If you are in similar condition then you will find Belize services adequate and affordable. We do not carry any health insurance and find it easy to visit the local clinic for minor things (ex: an ear infection) at little to no cost. Often times a clinic visit isn’t even necessary as you could go to the pharmacy, explain your symptoms and probably receive the medication you need without a doctor’s note (ex: show the pharmacist your kid’s gross seeping wound, she’ll diagnosis as impetigo and give you a cream to clear it up quick). For around $50 bzd you can see a private GP locally in Placencia.
For specialty services we have gone to the private hospital in Belize City and found it reasonably priced for competent care. Phil and I have each seen the Dermatologist, I’ve been for a routine Gynecologic exam, Mitch has seen an ENT specialist about the tubes in his ears… these have all been perfectly satisfactory experiences. That said, if any of us had a major health concern I would probably not address it in Belize. In fact, when people ask me if there’s anything that would make us move back to the states I answer with: “if any of us developed a major health issue like cancer, or if Mitch developed diabetes or something, that would probably have us moving back.”
But back to my point- general, routine, non-emergency health services in Belize are decent, easy to access, and economical. Case in point: my experience with Courts Optical services.
Years ago (like a decade at least) I had Lasik surgery and it was the best money I have ever spent! Aside from a rough first night of recovery (in which I thought my eyes had melted completely and were dripping out of my face as hot goo), Lasik has been the greatest experience- perfect vision, no more glasses, a modern-day medical miracle! I’ve enjoyed years of face-freedom. Played sports I wouldn’t have ever played in glasses or even just rejoiced at being able to read the alarm clock on my nightstand without reaching first for my spectacles. With increased screen time, I’ve noticed a bit of eye strain lately and I’ll sometimes have to quit the computer or Kindle for a bit to avoid a headache.
Back in March, before all the Covid craziness, Courts Optical came from their base in Belmopan to give free eye exams at the Placencia Community Center. How easy is that- free and it comes to me- of course I went for an eye exam. No appointment necessary.
They had a great selection of frames displayed and super-efficient staff to assist me.
First, they used this nifty new technology. (I don’t know how new it actually is because it’s been ages since I’ve had an eye exam but I don’t remember ever seeing it before)
Then they sent me in to the tent for a vision test with the optician. Looks pretty legit for something mobile that they set up in a community center.
Aaaaannnddd, I had a good run but after years sans glasses, my astigmatism has returned and they recommended corrective lens for when I’m working on the computer or reading. They made this easy: I picked out my frames and paid, they made the glasses with my new prescription, and delivered to me here in Placencia. Piece of cake!
I’m only just getting around to writing about this because I didn’t receive my glasses until just yesterday. After my exam in March, everything began falling apart. The shutdowns, the travel restrictions, etc. I believe it would typically take them under a week to fill an order for new glasses and obviously these circumstances were out of anyone’s control so I am fully satisfied with my experience. The cost for my new frames and lenses? Just under $200 usd. No, it wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t extravagant either, it was easy and acceptable.
What have your medical experiences been in Belize? What do you think about the standard of care? Do you have a local or international health insurance plan or do you feel comfortable paying out-of-pocket? I’d love to hear about it in the comments