Moving to another country is already stressful, but imagine having to find out not only how their health care works but if we are even eligible. In Canada, most of our healthcare needs are covered under OHIP, so once we look towards living abroad we find ourselves in the dark about the healthcare system, especially those with families. You have to ask such questions as, “Can my family and I receive healthcare?” “Are there options for private healthcare?” and “What happens in the case of a medical emergency?”
Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. Since Costa Rica has eliminated its military 64 years ago, the government has now focused majority of its budget towards health and public services. When it comes to the cost of health care in Costa Rica, it is very low compared to countries such as U.S.A and even some European countries. When going to the doctors, you are guaranteed a doctor who can speak very good English as well. Most doctors in Costa Rica have done their training in the U.S, Canada or Europe. So don’t be so turned off when you walk into a hospital or clinic and notice that the furniture is outdated. You are guaranteed to be covered and have the best care you can possibly get. The doctors and staff are very trustworthy and caring.
In Costa Rica, they have two systems of health care known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, also know as Caja, which is the government- run universal health care and the private system. Both systems are monitored and constantly updated with new hospitals, new equipment and staff training.
Costa Rica’s Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS)
In 2010, the government in Costa Rica made it mandatory for all residents to become members of Caja. Caja is available for all citizens and legal residents in Costa Rica. When it comes to foreigners living in Costa Rica who are under residence programs like pensionado or rentista (Refer to Becoming a resident blog post to know what this means), they are now able to obtain health care from the government. They are now able to get free treatments including check ups, monthly prescription drugs to major surgeries. Residents must pay a small monthly fee based on 7%-11% their income in order to receive any sort of treatment. Through this, you are able to have access to prescribed medications, dentistry, and access to public clinics and hospitals. If you do not have health insurance either in your home country or in Costa Rica (meaning you are not a legal resident) you will have to pay for healthcare, in cash, via monthly installments. The only downfall with this system is the waiting times. Ultrasounds, CT scans, etc. can take up to weeks maybe even months if it’s not an emergency.
Costa Rica’s Private Healthcare
Costa Rica’s private Healthcare system is very affordable and most likely done through insurance of your choice. The same doctors and physicians have the same level of knowledge as the ones in CCSS. The only authorized health insurance provider in Costa Rica would be Instituto Nacional de Seguros if you were not to use your insurance back home. Prices can vary depending on your health conditions, sex, and age. Either way, majority of foreigners living in Costa Rica choose to stick with the private health insurance in their home countries. Majority of the well-known clinics and hospitals work with international insurers so you won’t have to worry. The private healthcare system allows you to choose your own doctor when it comes to daily check ups. You get the best of both worlds when it comes to the private healthcare system. You are able to use CCSS as well if you are covered under private. A lot of people, who live in Costa Rica and have both the option, use it. The good thing about Private healthcare through this process is that the waiting times for ultrasounds, CT scan’s, surgeries, etc. are all taken care of right away.
For information, we always recommend you do that extra research when applying for healthcare. We want your new life in paradise to be a smooth ride when it comes to transitioning.
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