The Costa Rica health care system is well recognized internationally and its quality and affordability are second to none. Though health care in Costa Rica it is widely discussed among interested foreigners, the extent to what makes it so great is relatively unknown; from high quality, broad coverage in the public and private sectors, to the prestigious training of medical staffs, Costa Rica truly has an amazing health care system.
Costa Rica’s public health care is recognized as being of the best 20 systems in the world. There are 29 public hospitals and hundreds of clinics scattered around the country. In addition, in locations with out hospitals there are local, top notch doctors. The government run Social Security System (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS) sponsors the hospitals and is largely responsible for providing affordable, quality health care to the people. In 2010, a new immigration law implemented mandatory monthly payments to the CCSS by all expatriates. The monthly fees are $55 a month for anyone under 55 and $37 a month for anyone older than 55. In addition, the CCSS covers insured tourists in coordination with their providers in their home countries.
Costs on procedures can be 30-70% cheaper that US or European standards depending on a number of factors. Due to the prominence of the Costa Rica health care system and the country’s accessibility, it has become a celebrated destination for medical tourism, particularly for elective surgeries. Any plastic or dental surgery can be completed at US standards, but up to 65% cheaper! All medical tourism is completed through private health care. Even if the surgery is not elective, the private sector provides state-of-the-art facilities and doctors for patients in need. Again, the primary reasons for coming are cost and reliability. Other places in Central and South America not have the proper care available to people in dire need of treatment, which adds to the list of reasons Costa Rica is a medical haven.
The three main private hospitals in the Costa Rica health care system are CIMA, Clinica Biblica, and Clinica Catolica. CIMA has a hospital in San Jose and a brand new one in Liberia; they specialize in just about every medical category. Clinica Biblica is situated within metropolitan San Jose; it is prominent in many forms of major surgery, including heart and cancer care. Clinica Catolica is locate in surrounding suburb of San Jose called Guadalupe; it has a great ER and specializes in many zones of medicine, including: audiology, respiratory, nutrition, and mental, to name a few. Access to private health care comes through the government’s provided insurance company, INS. Depending on a multitude of factors, it costs roughly $60-$130 monthly.
Pharmacies are all over the country and provide easy access to medication, much of which can be obtained over the counter. Migraine medication, birth control pills, and many other remedies are available at any pharmacy without a prescription. Some stronger painkillers, such as low dosages of codeine, are available over the counter as well. Since there is often someone capable of writing prescriptions at a pharmacy, additional medications can be much more accessible than in other places. Many pharmacies are provided through the public Costa Rica health care system.