Healthcare is the most important factor for expats when it comes to moving to another country. Costa Rica is a world-class travel destination with mesmerizing beaches, rainforests, national parks, and volcanoes. Costa Rica is also one of the few countries that offer world-class quality and an affordable healthcare system in Latin America. If you’re an expatriate preparing to move to Costa Rica, make sure to purchase Costa Rica expatriate health insurance to protect yourself against any unexpected injuries, illnesses, or accidents that may occur.
An Overview of Healthcare In Costa Rica
Besides attracting outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Costa Rica has also become one of the world’s top spots for medical tourism. In the Medical Tourism Index 2020-2021, Costa Rica is positioned seventh in the global list.
Costa Rica also ranks third for the best quality of healthcare in the world on the Annual Global Retirement Index, making it an ideal retirement haven.
Costa Rica’s healthcare system is made up of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (Costa Rican Social Security Fund), which is the government-run universal public healthcare system generally identified as Caja, and the private healthcare system.
Healthcare services in Costa Rica are offered through the following facilities:
- EBAIS (Equipos Básicos de Atención Integral en Salud)
Hospitals and clinics in Costa Rica offer the same services, whereas EBAIS provide check-ups and preventative treatment for minor ailments such as colds and sprains. Each town in Costa Rica has an EBAIS where locals and expats can receive primary healthcare services.
Emergency healthcare services are accessible to everyone, even without public or private insurance.
Public Healthcare in Costa Rica
Since 2010, the Costa Rican government has made it mandatory for its citizens to enroll in the public healthcare system known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) or simply known as Caja.
Based on their annual earnings, salaried or self-employed citizens contribute between 7–11% of their monthly income into the public healthcare system that gives them coverage for healthcare services including check-ups, consultations, surgeries, and even prescription drugs at low-costs.
Citizens who are unable to contribute to the public healthcare system are offered free healthcare services. There is no age limit to enroll in the public healthcare system. Also, pre-existing conditions are covered. Expats can also enroll to access the public healthcare system with a contribution.
How to Enroll into Caja in Costa Rica
You can sign up for the public healthcare system once you arrive in Costa Rica.
Once your application has been approved, take the approval to the nearest Caja office. You will also need to bring the following documents:
- Your passport
- Notarized photocopies of the passport ID page and the page containing your entry into Costa Rica
- Proof of residency approval along with a photocopy
- Registration Request Form, if you are going to work in Costa Rica, that needs to be filled out by your employer
You will receive a receipt for proof of payment. This will need to be presented when you pick up your residency card.
While the public healthcare system is low-cost and provides 100% coverage for all medical facilities, it also has its shortcomings, such as:
- Longer wait times, as the public health system is often overrun with patients.
- Being overrun with patients, hospitals may be understaffed, which can also lead to delayed medical care.
- Difficulty in finding English-speaking medical staff if you are located in a remote or rural area.
- No choice of the practitioner you want to see, and difficulty finding a specialist.
- You will only be given medicines or generic drugs that are produced in Costa Rica.
These drawbacks often lead citizens to opt for private healthcare insurance.
Private Health Insurance in Costa Rica
Private healthcare insurance acts as a supplement to public healthcare insurance.
Private healthcare offers benefits over the public such as shorter wait times, English-speaking medical staff, choice of specialists, and general practitioners.
Private healthcare insurance in Costa Rica gives access to an even higher standard of quality of medical care and facilities than public healthcare does. Under Costa Rica’s private healthcare system, it is also possible to pay in cash for treatment at private facilities.
Private healthcare insurance plans are available through the government-owned insurance company INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros). You can register with INS to access all the private healthcare facilities. However, there are age limitations to register with the INS. If you are aged 70 or above, you will not be able to register with INS.
Costa Rica is constantly upgrading the quality of healthcare in both public and private healthcare systems. Both public and private health insurance are available for expats. But, they are not enough to cover the crucial requirements of an expat. This is why you need to purchase an expatriate health insurance plan that fits your needs.
Expat Health Insurance for Costa Rica
Moving to a new country will always have risks. As an expat, you need to protect yourself from situations that may be beyond your control.
Even though medical care is low-cost and affordable in Costa Rica, it can leave you financially drained if you don’t have the right insurance plan.
Expat health insurance is designed to provide comprehensive coverage that public and private healthcare insurance plans do not deliver. You may be able to customize your expat health insurance plan to add or remove the services that you do or don’t need. Buying expat health insurance will provide truly comprehensive coverage for your medical and non-medical needs within a budget that suits you.
Be Insured, Be Secure
Protecting your and your family’s health is your primary right in the new country. Having the right expat health insurance plan in Costa Rica will give you the peace of mind to enjoy the land of pura vida.