With a population of just over 16.3 million in 2015, Guatemala ranks 68th in the world by population and 105th by total area. The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. The currency is the Guatemalan quetzal.
Guatemala ranks 78th in world health ranking per WHO. In 2014, the total expenditure on health per person was $473, which is 6.2% of the GDP. Guatemalan males have a life expectancy at birth of 68 years, and females can expect to live 75 years. There are 0.9 physicians per 1,000 people in Guatemala as compared with 2.56 physicians per 1,000 people in the United States.
The public sector has 44 hospitals, health facilities, and health centers. Public hospitals experience shortages of medicine and equipment, with long waits and unhygienic conditions. Due to lack of funds, the government has contracted many secondary services (blood work, x-rays, etc.) to private facilities, which most people cannot afford. In rural areas, community health workers have been trained to serve as first point of contact, with medications and help for pregnant women. The private sector has private offices, clinics, and hospitals, used by about 5% of the population.
Public healthcare is run by El Ministerio de Salud. This system covers nearly 90% of the population who access the public clinics and hospitals. Large companies contribute to an insurance pool, with payments coming from small contributions from employees who can then use public hospitals. Other citizens (the majority) can pay about 4% of their salary for access to public hospitals, but since it only provides coverage for major injuries, most people choose not to buy it. Those who can afford it bypass insurance and use private clinics and hospitals, paying expensive out-of-pocket fees.
Overall, financing for healthcare in Guatemala comes from out-of-pocket household payments, the central government, companies, and international cooperation.
Travel, or international, health insurance provides comprehensive medical coverage when traveling outside of one’s home country. Travel health insurance is different from travel insurance, as the latter may provide only emergency coverage but not full medical coverage.
Travelers should check with their health insurance provider, as they may already have an option of international health coverage. If they do not, they can purchase travel health insurance from their home country or the destination country.