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Albania Health Insurance


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Recommended by guidebook publishers Lonely Planet as the number one country in the world to visit in 2011, the Republic of Albania, home to a population of almost 3 million is located in south east Europe, bordered by Greece, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro. Albania has 362 kilometers of coastline fronting the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and is a relatively small country covering a land area of only 28,748 square kilometers. Formerly a communist state, Albania isolated itself for nearly fifty years, however has since 1991 embraced democracy, moving to integrate itself with the European Community and NATO. Despite the economy being one of the weakest in Europe, improvements have resulted from a number of legislative and fiscal government-driven reforms, introduced to attract investors. Albania’s capital, Tirana is home to nearly 433,000 inhabitants and is the country’s cultural, economic and political hub. Following the fall of communism, Tirana’s elected mayor invited all citizens to paint the city to cover the dreary Soviet era architecture, transforming it into a bright and colorful city, with a lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife.

Albania also boasts unspoiled, white sandy beaches, intriguing ancient towns and beautiful seascape, complimented by a mild Mediterranean climate. Berat, which remained a museum city throughout the communist regime, is another draw for visitors interested to see the white Ottoman houses which earn it the title ‘town of a thousand windows’. Although tourism is still a fledgling industry in Albania, it has seen rapid improvement in recent years, particularly in ecotourism, with heavy investment in accommodation and hospitality facilities. The industry is still hampered however by local management issues. Given travel or taking up residence in any country carries some risk, and particularly so in developing countries, a comprehensive international medical and travel insurance plan, which covers all the activities one expects to undertake, is recommended. Travel advisories for Albania also note such policies should include a provision for air evacuation. The official language is Albanian however due to the proximity and influences of other countries Greek, Romania, Vlach and Slavic dialects are also spoken.

Albania Health Care and Insurance

The Albanian government, and more specifically the Ministry of Health and Environmental Protection (MOH) is the main healthcare provider for the Albanian people. The MOH’s system consists of 78 hospitals in total, of which there are 22 district hospitals, 41 public, 4 university hospitals and 11 regional. These facilities deliver services at three levels of healthcare; primary, secondary and tertiary. In addition to these hospitals, there are emergency rooms, health units, pediatric and maternity clinics, hygiene centers and polyclinics that function within the system. According to figures provided by the MOH, for every 100,000 Albanians there are 51 general practitioners, 33 dentists, 406 nurses, 291 hospital beds and 1.4 hospitals. Visitors to Albania hoping to rely on the public health service should be aware that facilities are not comparable to western standards however, as they are often of poor quality and extremely limited outside the capital. Basic medical supplies are also frequently in short supply. Expatriates with a medical condition that has an ongoing medication requirement are recommended to take enough medicines to last their trip as some medications ordinarily available at home are unlikely to be readily available in Albania.

In addition to the public sector there is a well-established and well-funded private sector, which includes high-tech treatment and diagnostic services and offers a much higher level of care. As is the case with private sector healthcare, the cost of such services are considerable and therefore out of reach for the majority of locals. Only those with an international health insurance policy can usually access such services, as Albania’s state insurance fund does not cover costs incurred through private facilities. Working in conjunction with the private sector are dental clinics, which travel advisories recommended expatriates do not use as many dental practitioners lack adequate training and equipment shortages are common. Emergency services and major medical care are often inadequate both within the public and private sectors hence transportation to Greece for specialist care may be required. It is therefore necessary to ensure that air evacuation is included in an Albania medical insurance policy.

Formally designated a developing country on the Human Development Index, which is a standard measure of well-being and takes into account living standards, education, and life expectancy, Albania was ranked 64th in 2010, out of the 170 United Nations member states. This positioning has highlighted the need for assistance, of which many international organizations have heeded the call and aided the government in its reform and modernization of the health system including the UN, UNICEF, USAID and non-governmental organizations. Despite this aid, Albanians living in rural areas, especially those in the north-east, still have limited options with regard to health care, reflected in negative outcomes in health statistics and represented in a lower standard of living compared to city-based populations. Child mortality in urban areas is much lower than that of rural areas, at 5 deaths out of 1,000 compared with 35 out of 1,000 highlighting the gap between districts and their facilities. On a whole however, Albanian men have an average life expectancy of 74 years and women, 80 years.

Albania travel Albania's medical insurance industry is a fast paced ever evolving market however our staff are experts and at your disposal.

Expatriates and Travelers in Albania

Albania Health Insurance Concerns

One of the biggest risks to health and safety for travelers and expatriates in Albania are vehicles. Albanians are inexperienced drivers; most have been in charge of a vehicle for less than ten years. This combined with the poor condition of roads and regular disregard for traffic laws, makes road usage hazardous. Albania has one of the highest traffic-fatality rates across all of Europe, hence travel advisories recommend that caution is exercised at all times, whether one is driving or a pedestrian. Visitors and residents are also recommended to ensure they have comprehensive expat health insurance which covers the cost of medical evacuation, which could likely result if an individual sustains severe trauma from a road accident. Crime is relatively low in Albania, although there have been some cases of crime targeting the expat community, typically though, violence and crime is related to business or political motives. As is the case with travel to all countries, visitors should be aware of opportunist criminals, keeping their personal belongings safe at all times and electronic items and jewelry hidden. If travelling in the mountainous region in the north or Vlora, caution is advised as there are still a number of cases were confrontation occurs between rival criminal organizations. Political demonstrations are common in the capital and it is recommended that expatriates avoid large gatherings where possible as the potential exists to be drawn in as an unintentional target. Although usually peaceful, public protests have occasionally turned violent.

Tap water in Albania is unsafe for consumption therefore visitors should ensure they only drink bottled water, which is widely available. Locals jokingly refer to the country’s unsafe tap water as Hoxha’s revenge, Hoxha being a former prime minister in the communist era. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B inoculations for those planning on travelling to Albania. Exposure to Hepatitis A occurs through food and water, and is one of the most common diseases contracted whilst travelling. To avoid exposure, along with drinking only bottled water visitors should ensure that easily contaminated foods are cooked thoroughly and that hand-washing or an alcohol-based gel is used prior to eating. A rabies inoculation is also recommended for travelers that may be involved in any activities involving carnivores, bats and other mammals. There are a large number of stray dogs roaming the streets of Albania, from which visitors should refrain from petting.

Albania Expat Health Insurance

Expatriates and visitors to Albania can expect a health care system that does not meet western standards. Expatriates should avoid all dental treatment and take enough medicines with them to last their trip. Private facilities can provide care for some emergencies however it is highly possible a situation may arise which could necessitate air evacuation to Greece. Evacuation by Air Ambulance can be extremely expensive and travel advisories recommend that those visiting Albania take out comprehensive insurance to cover such occurrences. International Medical Insurance can provide a free quotation for policy benefits that cover all your travel and medical requirements, including emergency medical evacuation, specialist consultations and doctor’s fees. Call one of our experienced advisors today to discuss a policy specific to your needs.