Home » Expat Focus International Healthcare Update January 2024

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update January 2024

Germany’s Health Insurance Costs to Rise in 2024

If you’re a resident in Germany, your health insurance costs (Zusatzbeitrag) will be rising by 0.1% in 2024 to a maximum of 1.7%, split equally between yourself and your employer. The rise will allow patients to access medical care which is not currently covered by statutory health insurance, such as some dental treatments, IVF and cancer screenings for those under the age of 30. If this hike is likely to affect you, check with your employer, as different health insurers will be imposing different premiums beneath the 1.7% cap. 

COVID-19 Measures Reintroduced in Cyprus

This month health authorities have reintroduced measures against COVID-19 on the island, as cases surge once more to over 3000. National health press officer, Charalambos Charilaou, reported that there were around 70 people in hospital with COVID-19 at the start of 2024, the majority aged between 75 and 80 years old and residents in nursing homes, where there are currently ‘chains of transmission.’ 

Health Minister, Popi Kanari, told the press that you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 48 hours, applicable to “everyone who enters hospitals, nursing homes, closed spaces [providing care to vulnerable groups], doctors’ offices, and dentists’ offices.”

Kanari also stressed the importance of being vaccinated, particularly for the elderly, pointing out that COVID-19 has, as we know, different variants and that the latest set of vaccines is configured to the most recent version of the virus, with a 65%–70% protection rate. She expressed concern not only about patients, but about the potential strain on the Cypriot health service. Kanari stated that the Cypriot government is recommending a return to mask wearing in crowded public places, and said that measures are likely to be reintroduced in schools. 

The Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association said that it ‘welcomed’ these measures and that local pharmacies would be happy to assist in giving vaccinations as well as in testing. 

Trieste Begins Free Health Trials

In Trieste, Italy, a joint initiative between the Italian National Institute of Health and the Ministry of Health is underway, inviting residents into hospitals or clinics for a range of free health tests, including echocardiograms, blood tests and blood pressure checks. The aim of this is preventative, to evaluate the risk factors of non-communicable diseases. The Mayor of Trieste told the press:

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“This initiative holds great importance for prevention and research. I urge the selected citizens to participate, contributing to understanding, preventing, and overcoming impactful health conditions. This endeavour will positively impact quality of life and public health. I extend my gratitude to the Italian National Institute of Health for including the city of Trieste in this survey and to the Giuliano Isontina University Health Company for their contributions to the local population screening’s organization and execution.”

Spain: New App for Reliable Health Advice

Health authorities in Madrid are planning to introduce a new app, as part of the recent ‘Madrid Te Cuida’ initiative, which aims to correct misapprehensions regarding a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The app will lead users to helpful, accurate advice regarding diet, skin conditions, pregnancy, and medications, after medical researchers noted that over 60% of advice on the internet relating to dermatology is either false or misleading. An AI chatbot will handle simple queries, but if more in-depth advice is needed, the app will reroute users to specialised websites. The Health Ministry reports:

“The idea is that the answers you get to your questions are verified by health professionals, either through an answer itself or through redirection to those verified pages.”

Health authorities such as the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians say that the problem relates not only to misinformation itself, but to the issue of debunking it and translating it into accurate and useful advice for patients. 

Mexico: Expats Satisfied With Healthcare

Local real estate company Far Homes have recently pioneered a study of expat retirees in Mexico, which reveals that expat pensioners are reasonably happy with the standard of healthcare which they receive in the country. Of those surveyed, 32.4% say that they relocated due to “health care cost and quality,” the 4th main reason for moving to Mexico besides climate, cost of living and lifestyle.

89% of respondents told the survey that they spend on average 5,000 pesos $290(USD) per month on their healthcare, including medication. A third spend under $60(USD) per month, as opposed to a monthly average of over $1000(USD) in the States. The study states: 

“We’ve previously reported that American expats in Mexico are saving about $8,000(USD) per year by moving and that still appears to be the case. Those cost savings don’t seem to sacrifice healthcare quality, though, because most of our expats surveyed with experience using the Mexican system say they are satisfied with their doctors and hospitals.”

56% of respondents told the survey that they considered Mexican hospitals to be excellent, whilst just over 40% said that they had no experience of the hospital system, and only 1% complained that public health services were poor (the report notes that the majority of expats will be accessing private healthcare). Four out of five people said that they regarded Mexican doctors as being of a standard ranging from good to excellent, with, again, 1% stating that they had found them to be of poor quality.