Most of you have heard about the National Health Care System of Cuba. It is difficult to find totally unbiased articles about it. Just like with the U.S. system—you can pick articles to “prove” that each system is wonderful, and you can pick articles to show that each is terrible. On our expeditions for health care professionals, we discuss the pro’s and con’s of health care in Cuba. We attend presentations with a representative from the Ministry of Health. On past trips, these representatives—usually physicians—have openly pointed out their success and failures. Many have visited the United States and attended conferences. They would like easier access to medical information from the U.S. They are also amazed at the cost of health care per person in America, especially when so many here have no regular health care at all.
Cuban health care is focused on prevention. For example, a pregnant Cuban woman will see her family physician 8-10 times during her pregnancy. Also, 99.9% of Cuban women deliver in hospitals. (The other 0.1% deliver on the way to the hospital.) The Ministry of Health simply does not want to take a chance on dealing with complicated deliveries outside of a hospital.
On the other hand, there are some situations that make visitors cringe. For example, the families of patients sometimes have to bring their loved ones linen and food to the hospital. It is not mandatory, but if the hospital is simply short of supplies for whatever reason, this is the way an immediate need is met. The hospital staff feel terrible about these situations, but they do the best they can.
Cuban health care is a very complicated subject. Cuban medical personnel want to learn more from institutions in the United States. They also provide visitors acceptable health care in designated hospitals. They provide specialized health care for patients from other countries. Cuba also sends thousands of health professionals yearly to other nations in exchange for hard currency or discounted petroleum products.
In my opinion, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the next five years will be “Health Tourism” for Americans. Currently, numerous cash-paying U.S. citizens travel half-way around the world for specialized treatment and surgeries in countries such as India, Thailand, and The Philippines. Cuba is much closer, American culture is very familiar, and the quality of care for visitors is high. Yet, relatively few Americans have traveled to Cuba for health care in the past, because most did not realize that it would have been perfectly legal to do so. (Travelers always could have gone to “Support the Cuban People” by paying cash for health care.)
Below are links to a variety of recent articles about health care in Cuba.
CUBA HEALTH CARE ARTICLES—2017