Costa Rica’s health care system is considered one of the best and most advanced in Latin America and in the world. Both public and private healthcare institutions in the country employ state of the art medical equipment and highly trained medical professionals.
The public Costa Rica health care system ran by the government is so good that the United Nations has ranked it within the top 20 globally. It has also resulted in one of the highest national average lifespans in the world. It provides, at a low cost, preventive and treatment services to all legal residents.
If you are a foreigner retiring in Costa Rica you can also benefit from public health services by joining the social security system (CCSS) for a small fee. This provides access to over 30 hospitals and 250 clinics. Alternatively, you can buy a health insurance package from the state owned insurance company (INS).
The private health care system has not been left behind either. Foreigner retirees can choose from four large private hospitals. Three of these hospitals have been internationally accredited. The quality of private healthcare in Costa Rica is at par with the one you would get in Canada or the United States but with the benefit of lower costs.
The doctors are trained in western medical schools and equipment used in hospitals is similar to that in the US. As a result of the high standard of private and public health systems, medical tourism has been steadily growing in the past few years.
Drawn by the country’s beautiful landscapes, all year round tropical climate, lower medical costs and lesser waiting times, foreigners keep streaming in for all manner of medical needs.
As a foreigner from US, Canada or Europe you can expect to save between 40 and 70 percent on most medical procedures. Getting a dental implant in the United States costs $3,000. In Costa Rica it is $900. For crowns, you will be charged over $1,000 per tooth in the US. In Costa Rica it costs only $400 per tooth.
For cosmetic procedures, a breast augmentation costs around $3,000 while in the US it goes for between $5,000 and $8,000. A facelift will only cost you half the US price at $4,500. An appointment with a specialist will cost between $80 to a $100. Seeing a general practitioner costs no more than $60 even when it is a house call.
These relatively low medical costs are major incentives to potential retirees who are looking for affordable long-term Costa Rica health care. Whether you need frequent checkups, a major surgical procedure or cosmetic care, the country’s health care system is very friendly to your pocket.
The best private hospitals in Costa Rica are CIMA in San Jose, Clinica Biblica right at the center of San Jose, Clinica Catolica also in San Jose and Hospital Clinica UNIBE located in the suburbs of San Jose.
The INS and other local insurance companies can provide you with a local health insurance or an international one. The local option only covers doctors and specialists within the country. The international one covers most hospitals in the United States and Europe.
For foreigners retiring there, the local option is the most ideal due to the lower monthly rates. However, if you expect to travel out of the country a few times, you should buy an international insurance cover.