Health insurance in Tunisia

The Republic of Tunisia is bordered by Libya, Algeria and the Mediterranean Sea in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It got its independence from French rule in 1956 and is a representative democracy. Its population is about 11.7 million people, who are primarily of the Arab-Berber ethnicity. The county’s major religion is Islam and her official language is Arabic. However, Berber and French are also mostly spoken. Tunisia’s diverse economy includes agriculture, mining, tourism, petroleum, as well as manufacturing. In terms of healthcare, the country’s health indicators rank near the top in Africa. On average, Tunisians have a life expectancy of 74 years and enjoy almost universal access to basic healthcare. The country’s healthcare system represents one of the most advanced in Africa. And has a level of quality that is on same pedestal with many European nations. here, we shall discuss health insurance in Tunisia

Healthcare system in Tunisia

In Tunisia, all medical facilities and hospitals owned by the government offer free services to all Tunisian citizens. Their Staff at the public healthcare facilities is fluent English, in Arabic, and French, which makes it convenient for patients from across the country to communicate and access medical treatment in the country. The Tunisian healthcare system has a strong government infrastructure and its regulation and supervision is done by the Ministry of Public Health. It comprises both public and private sectors.

The funding of the public healthcare sector in Tunisia is by taxpayer contributions and is available to all Tunisians and Expats who are eligible to access it. That being said, those in rural areas may struggle to access specialist care. This is because the country’s top specialists in the public sector work at the universities located in major cities. 

The country’s health care system is robust with more than 2,000 primary healthcare centres. And around 200 public healthcare centres. The private health care sector consists of more than a hundred private healthcare institutions, including clinics. Thus, with these number of health facilities, you can always find quality medical care in major cities and the capital. However, Public healthcare facilities are more functional in the larger cities.

Similarly, vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid are mandatory for Travellers and expats travelling to Tunisia, but others are recommended to vaccinate against hepatitis A and typhoid.

There are three major funders of the financial sector in Tunisia and they include; the state budget, the social security funds, and the households. All citizens are entitled to social security benefits and health insurance. But to receive social security benefits, one must have worked at least 50 days during the last two quarters or have worked for at least 80 days in the previous four quarters.


Public Health Insurance in Tunisia

The public health insurance scheme in Tunisia is under the management of the National Health Insurance Fund or Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie (CNAM). It is compulsory for everyone. Thus, all citizens and foreigners living and working in Tunisia must subscribe to health insurance. The list equally extends to spouses and minor children are also eligible for health insurance as dependents. Employers typically handle the registration for their expat employees (Foreigners who are in the country for work reasons), while self-employed expats register on their own. 

Under the public health insurance scheme, there is provision of free healthcare services within the public healthcare sector. And healthcare centres providing primary care, district and regional hospitals, and university hospitals. 

Moreover, and subject to approval from the appropriate authority, a policyholder can access the private healthcare sector for approved services and if they are treating severe and/or chronic conditions that require full health insurance cover. It may also cover some cases of hospitalization and surgery. However, the coverage level largely depends on three factors, and they include; the type of care, the coverage level desires of the policyholders and the payment terms. And lastly, policyholders can only receive benefits if the main insurer has either worked at least 50 days during the last two quarters or must have worked at least 80 days during the last four quarters of the year.

Private healthcare system

The private health care sector in Tunisia consists of more than a hundred private healthcare institutions, including clinics. In recent years, the private healthcare system in Tunisia is in receipt of a boost in terms of infrastructure, capacity, and healthcare staff.

The private clinics, especially those in the capital city of Tunisia, are of the international standards. Some of the clinics have the facilities to perform certain surgeries on patients.  And majority of these private clinics have English-speaking doctors, and many of them also fluent in French and Arabic. 

The numbers of private healthcare providers in Tunisia are becoming much more prevalent due to an obvious strain on the public healthcare sector. Public healthcare providers suffer overcrowding and long wait times. But on the contrary, the private healthcare affords more convenience due to low waiting times and overcrowding. Furthermore, the public sector is understaffed due to lack of funds and a brain drain of medical practitioners.  More so, the public healthcare sector also lacks technology unlike the private sector, as 70% of the country’s modern equipment is in the hands of the private sector. This has forced people to opt for private healthcare instead and face out-of-pocket expenses, which usually is far more expensive 

Also, Tunisia’s thriving medical tourism industry represents an evidence for its standard and value-for-money private healthcare services, as well as its reputation for highly competent medical staff. This has been making many foreign patients travel to the country each year to undertake specialized treatments and surgical operations in the field of gynecology, cardiology, cosmetic surgery, urology, and so on.

Private health insurance for expatriates in Tunisia 

In Tunisia, the National Health Insurance Fund “Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie” manages health insurance covers. The cost of care is much higher for expatriates as well as Travellers. There is also no free healthcare for foreign visitors. But despite the high price of health care for them, most expats do not mind giving in to the expenses because of the high quality of services that most medical centres offer. It is equally more convenient because the waiting time is short, and visits to the doctor are not cumbersome and time-consuming.

In most places as I said earlier, foreign visitors to Tunisia have to pay for their medical care on the go. That is why you will have to get your international medical insurance in place if you plan travelling to Tunisia. A health insurance cover not only helps deal with unforeseeable and costly expenses but also provides ease of access to some of the private clinics found only in the cities. And it is advisable you always keep proof of medical expenses to ensure that your claims process from the insurance company is easy.

Even though expats working in Tunisia can access the public healthcare sector, many find that it is not up to their standards. This is largely due to overcrowding and the dearth of modern equipment. In this instance, securing a private health insurance plan is a smart move that enables expats to access the private healthcare sector and avoid out-of-pocket payments. 

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