Uprooting from your home country and finding new roots in completely unfamiliar territory can be daunting. While you have a clear picture of your primary needs to be comfortable in the new country, have you given a thought to getting coverage for your healthcare-related expenses? As you prepare to move, purchase expatriate health insurance to keep yourself covered in case of any unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries.
Understanding Colombia’s Healthcare System
Colombia boasts of being a biologically diverse country with extraordinary wildlife and varying climate across the country. Colombia not only serves as a picturesque travel destination with the natural landscape and rich culture, but it also offers a low-cost, high-quality healthcare system with modern facilities.
Colombia’s healthcare system has undergone reform with the introduction of Law 100 in 1993, which aims to provide universal healthcare insurance to all its citizens. In Colombia, citizens can take advantage of this healthcare insurance through either a contributory or subsidized mechanism.
The contributory mechanism is known as Entidade Promotoras de Salud (EPS), and it applies to individuals engaged in employment earning above the minimum monthly amount.
Conversely, the subsidized mechanism is known as El Sistema de Selección de Beneficiarios para Programas Sociales (SISBEN). It aims to provide healthcare to poor, low-income groups with no or irregular employment.
Public Healthcare in Colombia
According to a report published in 2016, 40% of the top-ranked hospitals of Latin America are based in Colombia. Colombia offers world-class health and medical facilities that are easily accessible at affordable prices.
The backbone of the Colombian health system is the Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud (SGSSS)—or, in English, the General System of Social Security in Health.
SGSSS introduced two types of insurance systems:
- Contributory: Salaried and self-employed individuals who have the ability to pay make mandatory contributions under this system.
- Subsidized: Individuals unable to pay are funded through the contributory system and taxes.
SGSSS also introduced a public health insurance agency known as Entidadas Promotoras de Salud (EPS) to manage the contributory and subsidized systems.
Citizens are required by law to enroll under the public healthcare system through the EPS.
Salaried and self-employed citizens and residents make a contribution from their income to the General System of Social Security in Health. The employer also contributes in the case of a salaried employee.
Apart from basic healthcare services, the EPS plan also offers coverage for dental and vision care.
The contributing individual can also add family members and dependents into their EPS plan.
Individuals from the lower-income group are covered under SISBEN, which provides Colombians with health and medical care for free or at subsidized rates.
Steps to Enroll In Colombian Public Health Insurance for Expats
Expats, too, are required to enroll in the contributory health insurance system. To register, expats must have a cédula (resident identification card).
Expats can follow a simple three-step process to enroll in Colombian public health insurance.
- Get a Visa
Apply for a visa based on your requirement. Getting a visa can take up to two to six weeks on average.
- Obtain Your Cédula
Visit an immigration office once the visa has been stamped. Register your visa and apply for a cédula. This process can take up to two to three weeks.
- Apply for Public Health Insurance
After obtaining your cédula, you can register with EPS. As soon as your application is approved and you are registered with EPS, your coverage starts.
Your cédula will need to be presented every time you visit a doctor, hospital, clinic, or other medical facilities.
Private Health Insurance in Colombia
As almost all citizens are mandated to be part of the public healthcare insurance system, it creates a lot of burden on the system, which leads to delays in receiving timely medical care.
Therefore, many citizens and residents also opt for private health insurance to boost their public health insurance coverage. Opting for coverage through private health insurance is easier, as it can be secured solely with a valid passport. It is also extremely affordable and convenient to use.
However, individuals aged 60 and above with pre-existing health conditions are not eligible for private health insurance—as compared to public health insurance, which does not limit based on age.
With private healthcare insurance, you can consult a specialist directly without consulting a general physician, unlike in the public healthcare system. Private health insurance ensures access to a range of world-class medical facilities, top-notch treatments, reduced waiting times, bilingual medical staff, and prompt assistance during emergencies.
While both public and private healthcare insurance systems cover most of the medical requirements, for an expat, these are insufficient. For this reason, you should be sure to purchase expatriate health insurance.
Colombia Expatriate Health Insurance
As an expat in Colombia, you will need to contribute to the country’s public healthcare system, which will give you access to well-equipped medical facilities and well-trained medical staff.
While the public healthcare insurance provides affordable and adequate health and medical coverage, you also need to be protected from unforeseen critical medical or non-medical circumstances such as medical evacuation or repatriation.
This is where expat health insurance plays an important role. Expat health insurance plans are designed to accommodate and meet your specific requirements as an expat in Colombia.
Buying expatriate health insurance will ensure you are well-covered to meet your health and medical concerns without a strain.
Plan for The Unexpected
A new country brings in new adventures. Don’t let your health take a toll. An expat health insurance plan will help smooth this new transition in your life.