Employers Should Explore Opportunities From Renewed U.S.–Cuba Relations
Last week President Obama announced to the world that America is reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. But there is more to this White House policy on Cuba than diplomacy. You can view the entire Cuban policy Fact Sheet on the whitehouse.gov website. What's not explicitly included on this list is the impact of this new U.S.-Cuba relationship on the American healthcare system.
New Policy, New Opportunities
Many U.S. healthcare industry leaders are already familiar with the state of Cuban healthcare. They know that it is a standout in a country that is underdeveloped in most major industrial areas. They also know that opening up Cuba’s healthcare industry to America will change the way they do business.
American employers, on the other hand, may not be as familiar with the opportunities an open Cuban healthcare system may offer. However, now is the time for these employers and their HR departments to explore their options. There is a lot of potential for employers to greatly reduce their healthcare expenses by using Cuban healthcare resources. And there are at least three ways employers can achieve these savings.
- Create Their Own Medical Tourism Program With Cuba
- Contract Directly With Cuban Doctors and Dentists
- Purchase Prescription Drugs Directly From Cuba
Although a poor country, Cuba has an enviable healthcare system that is completely free to its citizens. And not only is it free healthcare, it's good healthcare with many outcomes that equal or surpass America's. In fact, Cuba has many ISO certified hospitals. It also has a large number of highly trained medical professionals. There are nearly 7 doctors for every 1,000 people in Cuba. The U.S. has about 2.5 doctors for every 1,000 people.
Students from all over the world, including some Americans, attend medical school in Cuba for free. In 2013, close to 11,000 students graduated from Cuban medical schools. Cuba trained doctors provide free medical care to citizens in Third World countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua and Guatemala. They also provide paid medical and dental services in other countries such as Brazil and Venezuela. Exporting doctors, nurses and dentists brings millions of dollars into the Cuban economy.
Cuba also engages in medical and pharmaceutical research and production. It has patents for cancer vaccines, meningitis and dengue fever. Cuba produces many generic drugs that it manufactures in partnership with developed countries like Spain and China. It exports these pharmaceuticals to many other countries. One large purchaser of Cuban generic drugs is the World Health Organization (WHO).
For now exporting Cuban healthcare to America is not part of the new U.S.-Cuban policy agenda. But that does not mean that employers and their HR departments should wait to discuss the possibilities that an open Cuban healthcare system has to offer. HR department heads should let their employee benefit advisors and insurance representatives know that this is a story that interests them. They should also consider consulting with a broker familiar with the Cuban healthcare market.
Happy Holidays Everyone! Be Safe.