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How To Get Health Insurance For Expats In Botswana

avatar - Megan Lewis

Megan Lewis

Commercial Lead

Healthcare in Botswana is on the up: it offers universal healthcare to all citizens, and the quality of care in 2023 is much better than it used to be. However, it’s probably not up to the standards of what expats are used to. It’s considerably less advanced than the likes of South Africa, European countries, and the USA. 

If you’re planning on living in Botswana, getting international health insurance means you can live your life with the peace of mind that you’ll get the best possible treatment if you get sick.

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How to get expat international health insurance in Botswana 

There are two ways to get medical insurance for expats in Botswana.

You can:

  • Use an insurance broker in Botswana who can help compare and advise you on the right plan – whether that’s local or international. These brokers don’t provide insurance themselves, but they do advise individual expats or companies with expat staff on which insurance provider to choose.
  • Get a quote directly from a private international health insurance provider that specialises in expat health insurance in Botswana, like William Russell.

You can find most of the international health insurance brokers in Gaborone, the country’s capital. If you decide to use a broker, it can still be worth contacting a private international health insurance provider directly, to compare plans and prices. Getting a quote online takes just a few minutes.

How to get private international health insurance in Botswana with William Russell

We’re a private family-run international insurance provider for expatriates, operating since 1992. We specialise in offering health and life insurance and income protection to expatriates in or moving to Botswana and to Botswanan nationals looking for quality health cover. We can also provide coverage for temporary stays if Botswana is your base and you travel a lot overseas.

As well as providing international health insurance for expatriates and their families, we also offer employee coverage for businesses. We cover small to large businesses, including hotels and tourist facilities in Botswana. 

There are four different levels of cover: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold. Bronze is our most ‘basic’ plan, and Gold is our premium product.

If you’re in Botswana, you can choose your area of cover. For example, you can choose to be covered only in countries in Africa. You can also choose to upgrade your plan to have full coverage worldwide (with restricted coverage in the US).

Want a full comparison of the different plan features?
Our comparison page shows which plan will suit your needs

All our plans cover you for:

  • Hospital treatment
  • Local ambulances (including air ambulance)
  • Advanced diagnostic tests
  • Cancer treatment (including genome testing of tumours)
  • Transplants
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • 24hr medical helpline

Things that only some plans cover:

Doctor visits and other out-patient care (SilverLite, Silver & Gold)
Pregnancy & maternity care (Gold plan only)
Dental care (different options on SilverLite, Silver & Gold)

Why choose William Russell for your expat health insurance in Botswana?

At William Russell, one of our key differentiators from other health insurance providers is you’ll always speak to a person. We won’t send you to a call centre and you won’t have to speak to three different people to get information.

When you start a policy, you’ll have a dedicated account manager who will handle your plan. You’ll communicate with them when you have any questions about your policy or a claim. That means no long holds on the phone to a call centre, repeating yourself over and over again.

We have members in over 160 countries, and 96% of our customers renew their policies year after year. As a specialist family-run firm, we go the extra mile to make sure you have a great experience with us. 

Want to know more about William Russell? Find out how we're
solving common problems with international health insurance

Here are the benefits of choosing William Russell

  1. Personalised service: We want you to choose the right plan for you, your family, or your company. We’ll ensure you understand your options so you’re not paying for cover you won’t use.
  2. One-on-one customer service: We don’t outsource our customer service. You’ll have a dedicated person who will handle your plan and be your point of contact.
  3. Specialised support team: We have a team of specialists for emergency, cancer, and maternity claims. These experts will be here to support you as soon as you make a claim.
  4. The best hospitals: We’ve been around for 30 years, and we’re proud of our partnerships with some of the top medical facilities in Botswana, Africa and beyond. We’ll always ensure you get to the best possible health facilities for your condition.
  5. Policies you understand: Transparency is vital to us. We aim to keep our plans and policies simple. Before signing up, we’ll talk you through the plans to make sure you’re 100% clear on what you’re signing up for and what you’re covered for.
  6. Quick claims process: If you need to claim, you can do so online using a simple form.
  7. 24/7 emergency helpline: As a policyholder, you’ll have access to an emergency helpline whenever you need it.
  8. Flexible plans and coverage: You’ll be able to choose from four different plans, and can add optional add-ons to make your plan more comprehensive. At your renewal date, we’ll help you review and modify your plan (if necessary) to best suit your life circumstances. 
  9. Freedom to seek treatment outside of Botswana: For example, in Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa.
  10. We have a comprehensive medevac process: As standard in all of our plans, you’ll be offered medical evacuation. We’ll evacuate when there’s a life-threatening or limb-threatening condition that requires in-patient treatment that cannot be provided locally. It also includes repatriation for you (and one companion) to your home country. With Medevac Plus, this also includes getting you to medical facilities for advanced imagining and cancer treatment.
  11. Since 2002, we’ve been underwritten by an insurer in the Allianz Group: This means you get the extra security of a large top-rated insurer with the personal service of a family-run insurance company.

Who is William Russell best for?

Since Inez Cooper founded William Russell in 1992, we’ve been serving a wide range of valued members across the globe.

Our policies are ideal for:

  • Professionals who frequently work and live in Botswana
  • Businesses with employees located in Botswana or multiple African countries
  • International students
  • Retirees looking to live or move overseas
  • Botswanan citizens looking for private health insurance.
  • Expats and their families who have plans to move to Botswana

We have a wide range of plan options so you can choose the right coverage for your circumstances: whether you want to cover just yourself, your family, or your employees.

We’re an international health insurance provider you can trust to be by your side with our comprehensive service.  

Interested in our comprehensive service?
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What is Botswana’s healthcare system like? 

If you’re considering a move to Botswana, it’s worth ensuring you’re well-informed on how healthcare works in Botswana.

In recent years, the quality of healthcare has improved – however, it still needs to catch up to what you may be used to in more developed countries. Healthcare in Botswana is universal and free for citizens.

As an expat, most public medical services will incur a nominal charge (usually about US$70/£50).

There are vast rural areas in Botswana, so it can be challenging to find the right centre for medical treatment (although for 95% of the population, there is a medical centre of some kind within 5 miles of their home).

There are some downsides to relying on the public healthcare:

  • Medical centres often have long waits, and they are rarely open 24/7
  • Some medical clinics have been known to exaggerate their credentials and expertise
  • Finding the best treatment centre for your specific condition can be difficult

Fortunately, Botswana has great private medical centres in Gaborone and Francistown. However, as with most places, those expenses can add up over time.

Read our expat guide to learn more about life as an expat -
Living In Botswana: A Guide To Moving To Botswana As An Expat

Who pays for healthcare in Botswana? 

Botswana has a universal healthcare policy funded by the government, mainly using funds from the country’s rich natural mineral reserves. It’s available to all citizens. The government operates 98% of medical facilities and has an extensive network of medical centres throughout the 27 different health districts.

What are the bomaid schemes in Botswana?

Bomaid is a medical aid scheme. Members pay ‘contributions’ monthly and receive medical cover according to the scheme’s rules. These contributions are paid directly into a pool of funds to be used by members.

For out-patient claims (not hospitalised), members pay a 10% co-payment plus VAT.

This can become expensive if you need a large amount of care. Similarly, the coverage limits are far lower than with traditional international health insurance plans. You can also only get cover in Botswana – not other African countries.

Is healthcare in Botswana of good quality?

Health services in Botswana have improved dramatically over the years thanks to WHO’s restructuring of Botswana’s Ministry of Health. Despite the challenges of a large portion of the population living in rural locations, over 95% of residents are within 5 miles of a healthcare facility.

Traditionally, Botswanian doctors have trained abroad and come back to provide service to their home country. The private hospitals in Gaborone are of a high standard and have exceptionally well-trained medical specialists.

We’ve built relationships with an extensive network of medical centres over our 30+ years in business, so we can advise you on the best medical centre for your circumstances.

What vaccines should I get before going to Botswana?

Ideally, you should get vaccinations for the following diseases:

  • Rabies
  • Hepatitis A
  • Heptatitis B
  • Typhoid 
  • Yellow fever

It’s also a good idea to consult a medical professional to prepare for malaria, especially if you’ll be going in the rural parts of Botswana.

What’s our medical evacuation process like in Botswana?

While we hope you never need to use it, it’s essential to understand the medical evacuation cover we offer – so you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands. Please note we don’t do search and rescue.

If you sign up with William Russell, here’s how it works:

  1. You let us know you’ve had a medical emergency through our 24/7 emergency medical assistance helpline
  2. We’ll assess the situation, and our medical team will get to work to understand your medical condition
  3. We take over the logistics. We will organise the evacuation destination and the most suitable means of transport
  4. Your transport will arrive and pick you up. We will pick you up on the ground and get you to an air ambulance if needed
Want to find out more about medical evacuations?
Here's how we organise medevacs in Africa

3 tips on getting healthcare in Botswana

1/ Question the credentials of the medical centres

While certainly not a problem exclusive to Botswana, some medical centres can exaggerate their ability to treat a condition in order to charge insurance firms for the ‘treatment’. This is a very small number of medical centres, and we will always guide you in the right direction. We’ll give you clarity on who to trust, so you can get the care you need.

2/ Healthcare is better in Gaborone

As with most places, the healthcare quality gradually decreases the further away from the capital you get. If being close to a private hospital is important to you, consider moving to or near the capital. Knowing your local health centre’s location is important if you plan on living rurally.

3/ Learn a bit of Setswana 

Most built-up areas in Botswana are fine for English speakers – English is the official language. However, Setswana is widely spoken in most rural areas, so it can be worth learning a few phrases, especially if you find yourself needing health care in these areas.

Choose William Russell for your international health insurance in Botswana

An international health insurance policy from William Russell means peace of mind. We’ll give you the safety and security you need to live your life to the fullest in Botswana.

For over 30 years, we’ve cared for thousands of expats, their families, and their businesses in countries like Botswana, giving them the assurance that they are covered by a comprehensive health insurance policy.

Looking for international health insurance in Botswana?

Get a quote today