Healthcare in Costa Rica

With Costa Rica being a popular destination among retirees, quality of healthcare is something at the forefront of people’s minds when considering whether or not to make the move. Thankfully, the standard of healthcare in Costa Rica is good. In fact, the country boasts some of the best facilities in Latin America.

Costa Rica has two healthcare systems, both of which expats have access to. There is both a government-run universal healthcare system and private healthcare options. Both systems are constantly being developed and improved and the majority of expats and wealthier locals tend to use a combination of the two.

Compared to most developing countries, the cost of healthcare in Costa Rica is low across the board and many doctors, particularly those working in the private sector, speak good English.


Public healthcare in Costa Rica

The government-run universal healthcare system in Costa Rica is called Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) and is more commonly referred to as Caja. Through its network of hospitals and clinics, CCSS is responsible for providing cost-effective healthcare to the population. Although the system is often overstretched, it has served Costa Rica well.

Expats who are legally resident in Costa Rica have access to free treatment for everything from a check-up and prescription drugs to major surgeries under the CCSS by paying a monthly fee which amounts to between seven and 15 percent of one’s income. While dependent spouses are also covered by CCSS, other visitors and tourists will only have access to public healthcare services in emergencies. 


Private healthcare in Costa Rica

While many expats have access to public healthcare in Costa Rica, most opt for private services. These offer speedier services and a higher standard of care. In the grand scheme of things, private healthcare is still very affordable compared to what expats may be used to paying in Europe and North America.

Under the Costa Rican private healthcare system, patients have the option of paying cash for their treatments or using insurance.


Pharmacies and medicines in Costa Rica

Pharmacies in Costa Rica are known as farmacias and can be found scattered all over the country. They tend to be well stocked and most medicines can be ordered in if they are not available. Expats are often surprised to learn that a prescription is generally only required for antibiotics and psychotropic drugs, so regulations are far less restrictive than in Europe, North America or Australia.


Emergency services in Costa Rica

The main emergency number in Costa Rica is 911. This connects the caller to the police, fire department and emergency medical services. Ambulance services in Costa Rica are relatively fast and efficient and paramedics are well-trained.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Aetna is an award-winning insurance business that provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. Their high quality health insurance plans are tailored to meet the individual needs of expats living and working abroad.

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Cigna Global

With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

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