costa rica healthcare system

Learn About the Costa Rica Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats

Life expectancy in Costa Rica is quite high, according to various reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO). One of the main reasons for this is the slower pace of living in this Central American country. Apart from this, fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance. Even the climate is suitable for an active and healthy lifestyle that most expats look for. Here’s what you need to know about Costa Rica healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.

This nation also boasts robust healthcare facilities for citizens as well as expats. Public and private healthcare systems are efficient and well-maintained. Once you become a resident, you can get enrolled in the government-run public healthcare system (CAJA) and avail routine medical care. You can obtain international health insurance or private expat health insurance to enjoy adequate coverage during surgeries and unexpected emergencies. Both the public and private healthcare systems are periodically upgraded to ensure that there is no shortage of medical care.

More health information about Costa Rica is available at CDC.

Overview of Healthcare in Costa Rica

Advanced healthcare facilities in Costa Rica do not typically mean that they are expensive. Compared to the United States or major European counties, healthcare costs are low in Costa Rica. Most of the doctors in private establishments can communicate in English as they are trained in top medical colleges in the US and Europe. You can expect excellent quality healthcare in private hospitals, especially in facilities located within San José. Medicine prices in Costa Rica are reasonable too.

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How the Costa Rican Healthcare System Works for Expats

Like most expats, you can go for a mix of public and private healthcare after moving into this country. The waiting time is slightly longer in public facilities as compared to their private counterparts. For instance, if your CAJA doctor recommends an ultrasound and the waiting time in a CAJA testing center is long, you can always go to a private clinic. Many Costa Rican private doctors also practice in public hospitals. So, the medicines they prescribe can be obtained from CAJA pharmacies for free.

Public Healthcare in Costa Rica

Popularly called CAJA, Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) is a universal healthcare system that Costa Rica can boast of. It offers 100% cover for various medical expenses, including prescribed medications and treatments. However, citizens, permanent residents, and expats will have a pay a small amount as a monthly fee to avail of these services. Note that the fee is based on the income of the people obtaining public healthcare. The overall public system is excellent, but there will be waiting time for non-emergency treatments. Expats will have to pay a certain fee to CAJA if they want to apply for residency.

Private Healthcare in Costa Rica

The private healthcare system networks in Costa Rica comprises of Clinica Biblica and CIMA. Both offer excellent medical care at affordable costs. Clinica Biblica can also assist you with a health navigator to overcome issues like language barriers. Some of their services are much better than those available in advanced countries like the United States. The cost of specialized services offered by the private healthcare personnel may be slightly higher than those working for the CCSS. However, with private health insurance in hand, you don’t have to worry much about the expenses. Costa Rica is gradually turning into a medical tourism hub as an increased number of people arrive here every year for complicated surgeries and treatments. They usually club their medical care stay with a peaceful vacation, and that too at an affordable cost.

Emergency medical services in Costa Rica

You can dial 911 to call an ambulance, and it will reach you in a quick time. Local Red Cross ambulances usually operate for medical emergencies. Private companies are responsible for providing inter-facility transfers.

Medicines and Pharmacies

Most medicines are available over the counter, and you may not need any prescription. You can simply visit a Farmacia and ask for a refill of your required medications. Most of the medicines available have a generic name instead of a brand name. Pills usually come in “blister packs”; however, each capsule is sealed.

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Costa Rica

Like most counties in Latin America, Costa Rica has its inherent problems that are related to its healthcare systems. You can avoid such issues by choosing a quality international health insurance coverage that suits your needs. Having an expat health insurance plan would mean that you can easily visit the doctor of your choice no matter where you decide to settle as an expatriate. You can also opt for one of the insurance plans offered by Cigna Global and start a hassle-free life in Costa Rica.

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