Learn About Colombia Healthcare System and Insurance Options for Expats

Colombia has been an independent nation for close to 210 years. However, it was not until a few years ago that the country started getting recognized as a significant hotspot for expats, digital nomads, and global citizens. Today, a large expat community from all around the world has made Colombia their second home. The Colombian government has also made extensive efforts to ensure that a comprehensive healthcare plan covers everyone who lives and works in the country. Here’s what you need to know about Colombia healthcare system for expatriates.

Colombia’s latest constitution, which came into effect in 1991, has made healthcare one of the fundamental rights of all the citizens and foreigners living in Colombia. But to be secure, expats should get a comprehensive health insurance policy. It ensures that they can get optimum treatment and health benefits not just in Colombia but anywhere across the world.

On the other hand, before departing to Colombia, it is important to check out the vaccinations to get before departure. The CDC has up to date travel health information.

Do Doctors Speak English in Colombia?

More than 99% of Colombians speak Spanish as their mother tongue. That means almost everyone who does business or provides services locally within Colombia can get through a day without needing to learn another language. This is one of the reasons why you will find that not all doctors and staff in public hospitals can speak English fluently. The younger generation of doctors is different, though, and is fluent in English. However, it’s going to be a while before this newer generation of fluent English-speaking doctors completely replaces the older one.

Many expats in Colombia prefer obtaining treatment at private hospitals, mostly because doctors and staff over there can communicate in English. Most of these hospitals are based in larger urban areas. So if you are living in some remote location or a smaller city, you may have to depend more upon public hospitals for your treatment.

Get Insurance Quote Online

Finding the Right Doctor at a Hospital in Colombia

You can get details about hospitals and facilities with English-speaking doctors from your hotel’s staff. The US Embassy, based in Colombia, can also provide contact details of such doctors. You can also visit other third-party websites to find doctors in your locality based upon their expertise, time of availability, fees, etc.

Types of Hospitals in Colombia

Over the years, Colombia has emerged as one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism in the Americas. The country’s advanced healthcare system and low cost of treatment are among the many reasons behind Columbia becoming a sought-after option for medical care. There are several public hospitals based across the country, while a few top private hospitals are based in Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga, among other places. More than 20 top hospitals in Latin America are located in Colombia alone.

The Colombia healthcare system has, over the years, become way superior to that of several developed countries like Germany, Australia, Canada, and even the United States. In addition to that, as many as 4 Colombian hospitals have secured the Joint Commission International accreditation, which is considered the gold standard in world health. Healthcare is compulsory for every person who lives and works in Colombia.

Difference between Public and Private Hospitals in Colombia

Colombia’s public healthcare system has continued to maintain high standards over several years, despite isolated instances of inconsistencies in treatment surfacing now and then. Many hospitals in major cities are often overcrowded, which can lead to longer waiting times. Despite that, the level of care at all these facilities is exceptional.

Private hospitals, on the other hand, have shorter wait times and highly qualified doctors and staff. Unlike several other countries, in Columbia, expats can easily afford treatment at most of the country’s private hospitals, even if they draw salaries from local jobs. Hence, we advise expats to get an international healthcare plan.

Is Medical Care in Colombia Free?

The Colombia healthcare system is funded primarily by the compulsory payment made by people living or working in the country. The benefits of the system are passed on to all of them through subsidized treatment at public hospitals. However, free healthcare is only available to the homeless and those who have a very meager income. Expats do not get the benefit of free healthcare, regardless of the kind of their job or financial standing.

How Much Does a Hospital Visit Cost in Colombia?

One of the biggest reasons why even US citizens prefer getting treatment in Colombia is due to South American‘s exceptionally low cost of treatment. For instance, a heart bypass operation that costs around $80,000 in the United States can be performed with considerably better services in Colombia for $26,000. Similarly, a knee operation costing nearly $40,000 in the US can be conducted for $15,000 in Colombia.

Finding a Suitable Hospital in Colombia

Since most of the hospitals in Colombia are exceptionally good, you could go to any of them for medical attention. You can decide which of them you’d like to visit based on the kind of assistance you need, the hospital’s distance from where you live, and whether your healthcare plan covers the treatment’s cost or not. You can also seek advice from some locals about where to go.

Top Private Hospitals in Colombia

Cardiovascular Foundation of Colombia

Santander, Colombia

+57 7 6399292

San Vicente Fundación

Antioquia, Colombia

+57 4 4441333

Clinica Las Americas

Antioquia, Colombia

+57 4 3421010

Hospital General De Medellín Luz Castro De Gutiérrez

Antioquia, Colombia

+57 4 3847300

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana University Clinic

Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

+57 4 4455900

Clínica Medellín Sede Centro

Antioquia, Colombia

+57 4 3568585

Marly Clinic

Cundinamarca, Colombia

+57 1 3436600

Fundación Cardioinfantil

Cundinamarca, Colombia

+57 1 6672727

Clínica Universidad de La Sabana

Chía, Cundinamarca, Colombia

+57 1 3077077

Frensenius Medical Center 

Atlantico, Colombia

+57 5 3680444

Hospital Internacional de Colombia

Piedecuesta, Santander, Colombia

+57 7 6394040

Colombia HIC International Hospital

Piedecuesta, Santander, Colombia

+57 7 6393936

All expatriates, digital nomads, and international citizens traveling to Colombia should purchase an international private health insurance policy for themselves as well as their families that also include air evacuation insurance cover. It will safeguard them against severe illness or injury in a foreign land. You can go for insurance plans offered by Allianz International or Cigna Global. For more information, contact Expat Financial.

Get Insurance Quote Online