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Health insurance in Ethiopia

How To Get Health Insurance For Expats And Locals In Ethiopia

avatar - Megan Lewis

Megan Lewis

Commercial Lead

Renowned for its cultural heritage and stunning landscapes, Ethiopia attracts thousands of relocating expats each year. Whether seeking employment, investment opportunities, participating in aid organisations, or immersing in the local culture, these expats consider health insurance in Ethiopia for a more secure stay.

If you’re planning to spend a year or more in this captivating country, you’ve probably already decided on international health insurance – but how do you actually get it? This article will run you through how to get health insurance in Ethiopia, the benefits of being a William Russell member, and tips on staying healthy in Ethiopia.

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How to get private health insurance in Ethiopia

International health insurance is a popular option for both expats and Ethiopian locals. To find the right private health insurance for your circumstances, you could use an insurance broker. Brokers help to compare different providers and policies. You can find brokers both online and in Ethiopia.

Another option is to approach a service provider like William Russell directly – a process that takes just a few minutes. After receiving a quote, a team member will get in touch to discuss your needs. As a specialist firm, we can run you through our various options for international health insurance in Ethiopia.

William Russell coverage in Ethiopia: How to become a member

William Russell is a family-run and owned insurance provider. We’ve been providing private health insurance services worldwide since 1992 – some of our members have been with us for decades. Our primary mission is to give the best support possible to people living and working abroad.

Here’s how to get health insurance as a local or an expat in Ethiopia with William Russell:

1/ Get a quote

When you get a quote online, you’ll see an option of plans with prices for each. This is where you’ll choose your plan level.

We have four types of insurance plans: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold. Bronze is our most affordable plan, and Gold is our top-of-the-line plan – the more precious the metal, the more comprehensive is your plan.

Every plan from William Russell covers you for:

  • Hospital treatment
  • Local ambulances (including air ambulance)
  • Advanced diagnostic tests
  • Cancer treatment (including genome testing)
  • Transplants
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Access to a 24hr emergency helpline
Only covered in some plans:
Doctor visits and other out-patient care (SilverLite, Silver & Gold)
Routine pregnancy & maternity care (Gold plan only*)
Dental care (different options on SilverLite, Silver & Gold**)

*Bronze and Silver plans cover complications of pregnancy
**All plans cover emergency restorative dental treatment

2/ Choose your area of coverage

After choosing the right plan for you, you’ll decide where your insurance will cover you. At William Russell, we offer insurance that works in four different areas for Ethiopia:

Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 4 Zone 5
Worldwide cover, with restricted cover in the USA Full cover in most countries, with restricted cover where private healthcare is expensive but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa (except South Africa) & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA

For example, if you live in Ethiopia and often visit other countries in Africa and the Indian Subcontinent, you might want to choose Zone 5. But if you also want insurance coverage in South Africa and countries on the Indian Subcontinent, Zone 4 might be a better fit for you. 

Keep in mind that the more places you want coverage, the more you’ll pay for your insurance.

3/ Chat with our team 

Once you’ve personalised your quote by choosing the type of plan and the area of coverage, you’ll see your final price. One of our team members will be in touch to explain everything that’s covered (and what isn’t) in your policy. Once you’re satisfied, we’ll send it off for approval. 

4/ Get started

Once approved, you’ll make your first payment. You’re now a William Russell member with health insurance in Ethiopia!

Why choose William Russell for your health insurance in Ethiopia? 

Let’s face it – most insurance providers work more or less the same way. You pay a monthly fee and expect to claim when you get sick or injured. So why should you choose William Russell?

As a specialist international health insurance provider, we have qualities that make us stand out from the competition:

Coverage for expats and locals

At William Russell, we cater to diverse health insurance needs in Ethiopia. Our health insurance plans cover a wide range of individuals – from students, retirees, and aid workers to corporate expats and even Ethiopian nationals. We strive to provide comprehensive coverage tailored to various lifestyles.

Dedicated policy managers

At William Russell, we put family and a personal touch at the forefront. The call centre model isn’t our style – instead, we assign a dedicated policy manager to a claim. This means that whenever you need updates about your claim, you won’t have to repeat your story to a different person each time. One person will deal with your case from beginning to end.

We take pride in our customer service at William Russell
Find out more about our personal approach and why it’s so important to us

Expertise in international health insurance for expats 

While most large insurance providers cater primarily to local coverage, their international offerings often take a backseat. For us, it’s a different story. Private health insurance for expats is not an afterthought. We prioritise long-lasting relationships with our clients — our 4.5/5 Feefo rating for customer experience tells us that our members appreciate us. 

Insurance that comes with you

Should your time in Ethiopia involve frequent travels elsewhere, an insurance provider that journeys with you becomes invaluable. Our four areas of cover offer a range of options, allowing you to tailor your plan to your specific geographical needs.

For instance, if you mostly reside in Ethiopia but often visit other parts of Africa (including South Africa), Zone 4 could be a great choice, providing comprehensive coverage across Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. We strive to offer a range of options to ensure you only pay for the coverage you actually need.

Claims assessed within 10 days 

Our aim at William Russell is to streamline the claims process for you. We try to assess all claims in 10 days or less. While instant decisions for each claim aren’t guaranteed, we can guarantee personalised care by your dedicated policy manager, who will keep you informed throughout the process.

Care in the best hospitals

With over three decades of experience, we’ve forged partnerships with some of Africa’s leading medical facilities. You can receive treatment at any of our partnered hospitals, which adhere to our stringent standards of care.

With William Russell, you’ll also have the freedom to opt for any hospital within your coverage zone, provided your claim is eligible. 

Round-the-clock access to our emergency helpline

Medical emergencies don’t operate on a 9-5 schedule. When you become a William Russell member, you get access to our 24/7 emergency helpline. From there, we’ll provide you with evacuation if necessary. 

A comprehensive evacuation process

When faced with a life-threatening or limb-threatening medical condition requiring in-patient treatment unavailable locally, we’ll arrange your evacuation. We also offer a more comprehensive emergency service, called Medevac Plus, enabling repatriation to your home country for you and a companion if required.

Our emergency evacuation procedure is simple:

  1. Contact our helpline.
  2. We evaluate the severity of your condition.
  3. If evacuation is required, we handle the logistics, dispatching a ground or air ambulance to transport you to the closest suitable medical facility.
Curious to know more about our evacuation process?
Our guide on emergency medical evacuation explains all

A specialist team for special conditions 

Having our in-house team of claims specialists on standby for emergencies, cancer, and maternity claims is paramount to us. These experts will be available to assist you with high-priority claims. 

Plans insured by Allianz

We’re a private insurance provider. But since 2002, an insurer in the Allianz group of companies has been insuring our plans. This gives you the personal customer experience and expertise of a specialist insurance provider while having the security of a large top-rated insurer.

A straightforward claims process 

We know that making a claim can feel overwhelming, but at William Russell, we’ve simplified the process to make it as straightforward as possible. The claim procedure varies depending on your situation. For instance,

  • If you’re an in-patient, we’ll send the payment directly to the hospital, and you just cover your excess/deductible. 
  • For out-patient care, you’ll handle the payment upfront, and we’ll reimburse you ASAP (assuming it’s covered in your plan).
  • An emergency claim is for a limb or life-threatening condition, which isn’t treatable locally. We’ll cover all logistics and payments up front. 
Want to know more about our claims process?
Our claims guide takes you through the steps

What is healthcare in Ethiopia like? 

Like many African countries, Ethiopia has outdated and limited resources for its public healthcare system, including a shortage of doctors and nurses and a poor referral system. Rural areas suffer from significantly restricted access to health services compared to the main cities, which is a big issue as most of Ethiopia’s population resides in rural regions.

As the Ethiopian government works with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) toward improving the public health sector and providing universal health coverage, current healthcare services in Ethiopia are not free. For now, specific vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and children, may have access to certain free health services.

Despite grappling with significant health issues like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, Ethiopia has also demonstrated promising progress in addressing these problems. The government has instituted popular health insurance schemes like Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) and Social Health Insurance (SHI) programmes.

These initiatives aim to provide low-income citizens, citizens working in the informal sector (e.g., agriculture) and civil servants with health insurance. However, the SHI and CBHI schemes are typically not accessible to expats and the overall enrolment rate among citizens remains low because of its poor quality.

However, there are quality private health service options, primarily in the capital city, Addis Ababa. These facilities offer higher quality, better amenities, and reduced waiting times compared to public facilities.

3 tips on staying healthy in Ethiopia

While William Russell will have your back if you’re sick, keeping yourself safe (as much as possible) is important. Here are a few tips on staying healthy in Ethiopia:

  1. Be cautious of water: Drink plenty of clean, safe water to stay hydrated, especially in hot and dry climates – however, only drink bottled water or use water purification methods like boiling or water filters to ensure the water’s safety. Don’t drink water if you can’t verify the source. Ethiopia has high rates of hepatitis A and typhoid, which can be found in contaminated water. 
  2. Take precautions in rural areas: Most of Ethiopia is rural. Make sure you have plenty of insect repellant to avoid malaria, and wear long sleeves/pant legs to prevent insect bites. There is a shortage of medical centres in rural locations, so the necessary supplies may not be available there.
  3. Stay up to date on vaccinations: Prevention is the best cure. As well as your standard routine vaccines, the CDC recommends you vaccinate with the following before travelling to Ethiopia:
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever (you need to have proof of this to enter the country in certain areas)
  • Meningitis (usually from December to June)


Determining the cost of health insurance in Ethiopia depends on several aspects. The geographical areas where you want coverage, the type of plan you take out, and whether you opt for premium services (such as dental care). 

Thankfully, William Russell provides a broad spectrum of plans and areas of coverage that you can choose from to fit your budget. Here are some examples: 

Bronze SilverLite Silver Gold
Age 30 US$98 US$140 US$180 US$324
Age 35 US$103 US$147 US$189 US$333
Age 40 US$114 US$164 US$211 US$376
Age 45 US$146 US$200 US$257 US$450
Age 50 US$199 US$251 US$322 US$573

All prices in the table above are monthly and are based on the US$250 per annum excess and Zone 2, with the plan starting in 2023.

Get a quote and find out if we have a plan that suits you.

Wondering about the average cost of health insurance for expats? Get the lowdown in our complete guide

Based on statistics from the Ethiopian Health Insurance Agency in 2020, only about 3% of the population has private insurance. However, the reach of health insurance is broader when considering the healthcare financing system of Ethiopia’s Community-Based Health Insurance scheme (CBHI), which covered more than 14.5 million people in 2017.

While Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health operates public health facilities and offers health services at subsidised rates for its citizens, healthcare isn’t entirely free. This approach helps make healthcare more affordable in a country with many low-income citizens. However, both citizens and expats will have out-of-pocket healthcare costs for consultations, medications, surgeries, and specialised treatments.

There are three main ways people get health insurance in Ethiopia:

  1. The government-sponsored CBHI/SHI programmes cater to low-income individuals and people employed in the informal and formal sectors.
  2. Employers often offer health insurance as part of their benefits package.
  3. Private health insurance options, like those offered by William Russell, provide comprehensive coverage tailored to individual needs, whether you’re an expat or an Ethiopian local.

Stay protected in Ethiopia with health insurance from William Russell

We’ve been safeguarding the health of expats and their families for more than 30 years. Becoming a member of William Russell allows you to concentrate on establishing your life in Ethiopia. 

With health insurance in Ethiopia from William Russell, you can live, work, and enjoy your time in the country with the assurance that we have you and your family’s well-being covered.

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