Photo: Garwin Davis, Jamaica Government Information Service . Tourism Minister Bartlett is now in the insurance business. How tourists will take to mandatory health insurance that must be purchased to enter Jamaica remains to be seen.

KINGSTON, Jamaica–December 16th, 2020–The Jamaica Ministry of Tourism is in discussions with international airlines regarding the implementation of the Jamaica Cares insurance program.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on December 15th, Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, said the program is set to come on stream in the first quarter of 2021, although it had originally been scheduled to start in November, 2020.

“Jamaica Cares… will position Jamaica as one of the most COVID-resilient countries in the world when it is launched. It is a groundbreaking travel protection and emergency services program that provides visitors with the cost of medical care, evacuations, field rescue, case management and patient advocacy in all circumstances up to and including natural disasters,” Mr. Bartlett explained.

Bartlett did not explain what he has been discussing with the airlines, but it is possible that Jamaica is asking the airlines to collect the insurance premium by adding it to the price of an airline ticket in a similar way to adding on airport taxes, or at least to check whether travelers have the insurance before allowing them to board.

As it relates to COVID-19, the protection plan also covers testing for symptomatic travelers, quarantine/isolation in a medical facility or sanctioned quarantine facilities and evacuation, if necessary.

“This new framework will considerably lessen the burden on the local health system and ensure that Jamaicans are not deprived of well-needed health resources,” Bartlett pointed out.

Bartlett did not provide any numbers on current expenditure by Jamaica on health care for visitors, particularly with regard to tourists with Covid-19, who are confined to the ‘corridors of resilience.’

The Jamaica Cares” program, which is a mandatory travel insurance for all visitors into the country.

However, visitors to Jamaica might have to adjust their budgets to include the new fee for the compulsory program, expected to be around $50 per person.

The program requires all travelers, no matter if they are already covered with their own travel insurance, to purchase a package, which will give them a bundle of coverages.

Although Jamaica has proven one of the most successful tourism reopening’s by welcoming over 150,000 visitors since June – incident free – they want to eliminate fear of Covid-19 to coax more travelers to visit the reggae island this winter.

Whether the insurance plan will be successful in attracting more visitors, or will deter more visitors remains to be seen.

The coverages and inclusions provided in the Jamaica Cares program are not just limited to Covid, and cover other things travelers are concerned with, including:

  • Case management
  • Transport logistics
  • Field rescue
  • Evacuation and repatriation for medical emergencies (including COVID-19)
  • Other crises up to and including natural disasters
  • International health coverage up to $100,000 for tourists traveling on their way to and from Jamaica
  • On island health coverage up to $50,000