As globally mobile individuals and market commentators reflect on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis, the Cayman Islands has emerged as a location with many advantages, not least its world-class healthcare services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a growing number of affluent individuals re-consider Citizenship by Investment (CBI) and Residency by Investment (RBI) programmes as they increasingly prioritise access to healthcare and world-class medical services in their considerations of lifestyle, climate, transport link,s and other factors that help influence where they choose to live.
Forbes: Cayman among the hemisphere’s most proactive in disease containment
As the Cayman Islands’ response to the coronavirus crisis has proved, it is possible to have both an idyllic lifestyle in a low-density locale and access to world-class healthcare facilities. A growing appreciation for these attributes, as well as the country’s response to the pandemic, is earning the Cayman Islands accolades.
Cayman’s response to COVID-19 was swift and effective, heralded by Forbes magazine as “one of the most proactive and decisive disease containment strategies in the hemisphere”. This response was made possible because Cayman is one of the most financially secure and stable jurisdictions in the world. As one of the largest international finance centres on the planet, and a British Overseas Territory, Cayman’s fiscal strength and political influence has proved a powerful combination in containing the spread of COVID-19 within its borders.
Not a single COVID-death among Cayman residents
Since the onset of the pandemic, Cayman has had only 205 confirmed cases and recorded only one death. This death was not from someone living in the Cayman Islands but a sick patient transported from a cruise ship into the Cayman Islands for treatment, who later tested positive for COVID-19 and sadly passed away. Not a single resident of the Cayman Islands has died from COVID-19.
When it comes to healthcare facilities, the Cayman Islands boasts three world-class hospitals on the main island of Grand Cayman: the government-run Cayman Islands Hospital, the private CTMH Doctors Hospital and Health City Cayman Islands – a $46 million state-of-the-art private hospital, which is Joint Commission-accredited, meeting the highest global standards of hospital care.
Cayman offers truly world-class standards of medical care. Inspections of all healthcare facilities in Cayman are required by law and must meet the standards of “the UK, Canada, or the United States of America,” according to the Health Practice Law. Additionally, in order to be registered as a doctor in the Cayman Islands, practitioners from outside the jurisdiction who practice in Cayman must be fully registered as a health practitioner in one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
Cayman’s Health Services Authority (HSA) led the charge against COVID-19 and the Cayman Islands Hospital, run by the HSA, was command centre for an exemplary response to the global pandemic. The hospital is the principal healthcare facility in the country, a modern 139,000-square-foot facility with 124 beds that houses accident and emergency services, a wide range of surgical services, a Critical Care Unit, physiotherapy, a pharmacy, central sterilisation unit and laboratory services including a state-of-the-art forensic unit. The hospital is also home to a full range of other specialist services and clinics.
In addition to this, Cayman has CTMH Doctors Hospital, an 18-bed private medical and surgical hospital which was instrumental during the early days of COVID-19 in expanding testing capacity across the islands by partnering with Australian medical services firm Oxygene to launch a COVID-19 testing facility and to facilitate timely island-wide COVID-19 testing. The hospital also provides 24-hour urgent care facility and has invested significantly in the latest medical technology to ensure it remains at the forefront of surgical medical advancements. It is home to both local doctors and renowned visiting specialists who base themselves in Cayman for surgical clinics on a rolling basis.
Finally, the Cayman Islands is also home to Health City Cayman Islands, a tertiary acute care hospital that deals with both adult and pediatric patients. A 104-bed, state-of-the-art operation, Health City was built in 2014. As a cutting-edge health facility, it offers levels of care and medical expertise on par to what is available in global cities. Health City specialises in cardiac surgery, spine surgery, bariatric surgery, neurology, pulmonology and pediatric endocrinology and also offers a full range of surgical and non-surgical services.
Health City’s presence in the Cayman Islands means that Cayman residents now rarely have to leave the Cayman Islands for even the most complex healthcare needs and the hospital and its world-leading surgeons have made medical history in the region with several medical firsts being performed at the hospital in recent years.
50% of the population already tested for COVID
Cayman’s sophisticated healthcare system and range of urgent-care provision was critical in dealing with COVID-19, and Cayman became one of the only countries in the region to be able to provide reliable COVID-19 testing from the very beginning of the pandemic. Cayman is currently ranked third in the world for testing, and is the top tester in the Americas, having tested over 50% of its population for COVID-19.
Early on in the crisis, the Cayman Islands secured 200,000 testing kits. It also quickly established PCR testing facilities in the island’s major hospitals, supervised by Public Health England and the Islands’ Chief Medical Officer – Dr. John Lee. In addition to PCR testing, Cayman also started antibody testing in mid-June 2020 to establish how widespread the virus was in the islands, another useful tool in controlling the virus.
The UK provides additional capacity to its territory
The Cayman Islands’ status as a British Overseas Territory meant that the UK provided support via a team of public health professionals, supplies and best-practice information from Public Health England from the very beginning. Cayman’s partnership approach enabled it to construct two emergency field hospitals, similar to the UK’s Nightingale Hospitals, in the event that Cayman experienced a resurgence of COVID-19 in the islands. These facilities mean Cayman has capacity for an additional 60 hospital beds immediately, with further expansion possible if needed. To date these facilities have not been needed.
Not only is healthcare provision in the Cayman Islands on par with most larger countries in terms of quality, the costs of healthcare are also relatively low. Health insurance is mandatory in the Cayman Islands for all residents and Cayman was one of the first countries to implement this policy. Residents can expect very short waiting lists for routine and even more complex medical procedures available on health insurance. Health insurance plans range in price from $167 a month for a basic plan to $500-$900 a month for a comprehensive plan that includes dental and vision coverage. Insurance premiums are roughly doubled for a couple, or tripled for a family.
Whilst other Caribbean islands may have been successful in attracting migrant investors pre-COVID-19, much has changed in a post-pandemic world and today the Cayman Islands’ superior healthcare offering could prove crucial in cementing the jurisdiction’s place as the preferred RBI location in the Americas and beyond. To learn more about healthcare provision in the Cayman Islands, please this read this recent article from Provenance Properties Cayman Islands.
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Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.