There is no national health insurance in Grenada. The Ministry of Health’s focus on primary care, however, has resulted in primary health services being provided to Grenadian citizens for only a small fee. This fee is usually waived for children, the elderly, and the indigent.
Unfortunately, in spite of the wide availability of primary care, the quality of care offered at many public hospitals in Grenada is rather poor, and there is a critical lack of medical specialties. Because of this, advanced medical treatment is often administered off-island and is very expensive. It is estimated that only 9% of the Grenadian population carries private health insurance; as a result, many procedures are paid for out-of-pocket.
The vast majority of students in Grenada attend St. George’s University, which requires its students to maintain current and adequate health insurance. Students can choose to purchase their own coverage or enroll in the university’s plan, which includes use of university clinics and faculty. All students, whether they choose the university plan or not, are enrolled in the Air Assistance Plan. This plan provides air evacuation services in the case of medical emergencies that require off-island treatment (the annual cost of the plan is added to student bills).
Because of the presence of the medical school, many foreigners assume that Grenada offers excellent healthcare, but generally the school’s facilities and doctors are reserved for students and faculty. Even students enrolled in the school’s plan, however, are referred to Grenada’s General Hospital or local private clinics for acute care.
If you are studying in Grenada but are not enrolled in St. George’s University, it is strongly recommended that you acquire private medical insurance. While coverage differs between providers, many US health insurers will not assume the cost of treatment in Grenada; check with your provider to ensure coverage. You will want to purchase coverage that provides emergency air evacuation services, in case you become critically ill or injured and need to be treated off-island.
While it is true that the majority of Grenadians get by without health insurance, the quality of care offered in Grenadian hospitals is far below that expected by most Americans and Europeans. Additionally, Grenadians assume enormous out-of-pocket costs for secondary or private care, and medically necessary air-travel can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
If you are studying in Grenada, medical insurance is essential to be able to afford private clinics and, when necessary, off-island care. Such care can be hugely expensive when paid for out-of-pocket, yet it is critical part of adequate healthcare on the islands. Even if you end up not requiring medical services during your studies, it is far better to be safe than sorry.