Earlier this year, the government of Cuba decreed that all visitors must have proof of travel insurance before entering the country or they would have to buy coverage from Cuban companies. If you have recently traveled to Cuba or are planning to, we want to hear if you have been asked for such proof or if you have encountered any problems.
In announcing the requirement last April, the Cuban government stated that any travel insurance policy that would cover the costs of emergency health care while you were in Cuba would be acceptable, including proof of provincial government health coverage. The problem with that is that government insurance will only reimburse you for a small share of the medical costs in a Cuban hospital or clinic: most will not pay the hospital or doctor directly (you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket and then wait to get reimbursed by your domestic plan), and they will certainly not pay for any air ambulance if you need emergency repatriation to a hospital at home—which is the preferred way to handle a serious medical emergency in that country.
As for buying a Cuban plan when you arrive there, be aware that it is a bare bones product that has a very low limit of benefits, no air repatriation, and no allowance for transfer to a mainland specialty centre if you need one. Neither does it have any benefit allowing a close a family member to come to your bedside, which is a standard feature of all Canadian travel insurance plans—all of which have benefit limits ranging from $1 million upwards.
We would like to get some feedback on how this plan is working and share your experiences with other Cuba-bound visitors. Send us an email and if you keep it short and clean we’ll use it. If you want to remain anonymous, just tell us. Otherwise we’ll use your name.
We would like to know:
- Were you asked for proof of insurance?
- Did the border official look at it or just wave you through?
- What kind of proof did you offer?
- If you didn’t have insurance, were you required to by a Cuban plan?
- If you have any other comments about the experience you would like to share, let us know.
And if you’re still planning your Cuban trip, be safe and be sure: get your coverage before you leave and don’t count on your government medicare to cover you adequately. It won’t.