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Costa Rica Healthcare System

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Costa Rica Healthcare System

There is a reason (actually more than one) why Costa Rica is popular among expats. It’s the first choice for those looking for a beautiful location with low cost of living and affordable houses. Not only that, Costa Rica is famous for its high international standard in delivering of healthcare services. The World Health Organization indicated this in one of its research.

More and more people are beginning to discover one can get quality healthcare services at a fraction of what it is obtained for in other parts of the world, especially in the US. In addition, it’s on this tropical land called Costa Rica that you’ll find several of the world’s best nurses and medical practitioners.

Costa Rica has become the best alternative to the high cost of healthcare in the US, a situation aggravated by the unending political debate related to medical healthcare bills. What’s more, majority of the medical professionals practicing in Costa Rica got their degrees and license from schools in the US or Canada, and other countries in Europe. So rest assured you’ll find the same latest technology tools used by those countries, also used in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Two Healthcare Systems

Costa Rica healthcare system comes in two different packages. The private healthcare system and the public healthcare system. The public healthcare system is controlled by the government and known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), called Caja for short and universally available to all citizens and legal residents. The two systems work together and can be accessed by an expat.

Both systems are also being constantly developed by stakeholders in both systems. One frequently hears of new hospitals being commissioned, new equipments being purchased for one hospital, and new programmes and training for medical professionals.

Costa Rica Public Healthcare System

The Caja is the primary provider of low-cost healthcare services through its network of government run clinics and hospitals. As mentioned earlier, Caja is available to Costa Rica citizens and legal residents. Tourists, visitors and others are only considered in an emergency. Caja has been in operation in Costa Rica for more than 60 years now. Although the system is loaded with lots of obligations, its been doing its best to survive while still providing quality medical services which is free most of the time.

To become a legal resident, especially those who want to settle on the island after retirement, all the applicant needs to show is a verified source of income (could be from different sources like pension, welfare, social security or disability) of not less than $1000. Once this is verified, the applicant can become qualified for the residency status. If applicant has a spouse, their spouse can also join then on the health plan after applicant’s application has been considered and approved. Of course, there is a monthly payment for this healthcare system, which is paid based on each person’s income, usually between 7% – 11% of the income.

Costa Rica Private Healthcare System

The private system is a bit more expensive than Caja, but still far more affordable when compared with other foreign countries. The private system allows patients to pay in cash or through insurance, even where the insurance policy was obtained from the US or some European country. The cheap quality medical treatment available in Costa Rica prompted the trend of “medical tourism” where people come for vacation, but include a medical treatment or procedure in their arrangements. Treatment is usually carried out before or after the vacation.

The Costa Rica healthcare system has a couple downsides, so not all is rosy. The first is the language barrier one would face especially when interacting with non-medical personnel. It’s possible your doctors and nurses can speak English, but one cannot always vouch for the administrative personnel who might not understand a word of English, thus making it difficult to move around the hospital. There is also the long wait for test results (MRIs, scans, xray and diagnostic tests) even after one has scheduled an appointment. This waiting applies to all medical cases including nonemergency surgery.

Some can try to get around this waiting by using the services of both the public and private system. For instance, have scan, xray or diagnostic tests done in the private system, then return to a Caja doctor for treatment.

The range of medical treatments available in Costa Rica is near unlimited. There have been successful hip, bone replacement surgeries, dental procedures and even cosmetic surgery.

Next time you are in search for a beautiful place to relax and carry out that chemotherapy or surgery, Costa Rica is the place.

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