Healthcare in Brazil



Brazil has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and is one of the few countries that offers universal healthcare in the Western Hemisphere. Medical care is accessed through a public national health system as well as through private providers. 

When relocating to Brazil, expats will be happy to hear that healthcare is readily available to all residents, including foreign nationals legally living in this country. Residents who cannot afford to pay for treatment can use the government's national health system at no cost. The municipal hospitals provide treatment and emergency services for free. Brazil's national healthcare system is on a par with the calibre and operational style of the most hospitals in other famous expat destinations such as the United States. 

The Brazilian Public Healthcare Scheme 

In the past, Brazil's public health system was restricted to those paying contributions to the national social security system, known as Instituto Nacional de Assistência Médica da Prevedência Social (I.N.A.M.P.S.), but after the social reforms the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), or the Unified Health System, was established in 1988, with the vision that "healthcare is a right of all and an obligation of the State". The Ministry of Health decentralised the system, which minimised the role of the federal government and gave responsibility to municipalities and states. The healthcare scheme did not just target the poor but became a constitutional right for all legal residents. 

Brazil’s SUS is financed with general taxes and with social contributions collected by the three levels of governments which are the federal, state and municipal. Healthcare is delivered through a wide network of hospitals, clinics and through contracts from several private providers. 

Private Health Sector 

Brazil’s private healthcare sector includes an extensive system of insurance schemes called the Supplementary Health which is funded employers, medical cooperatives, Self-administered plans or companies and private insurance plans. The private sector is comprised of modernised hospitals, laboratories and clinics that offer out-of-the-pocket services to the so-called high-income population. Brazil’s private healthcare sector is also making names across the world in the field of medical tourisms whereas foreign nationals travel to this country mostly for cosmetic surgery and dental work. 

Despite the presence of the SUS, some locals and expatriates still choose to take out private health insurance to cover their medical needs that are not covered either by the state or their employers. However, Brazil’s private healthcare is notorious in terms of prices and is regarded as one of the most expensive in South America. 

Doctors and Hospitals 

The number of General Practitioners or Doctors in Brazil is quite low. Most doctors go into specialised areas of work. Because of this, the government created an extensive family healthcare program under its public healthcare system. A GP no longer needs to refer specialists for treatment; patients can directly visit a specialist health provider in the private sector. It is important for expats to note that there are no paramedics in Brazil, as non-physicians are not allowed to carry out advanced life support procedures. 

In most cases, both private and public healthcare is available in a Brazilian hospital. Most major and modernise hospitals in this country are found in major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo which is Brazil’s financial hub and Brasilia, the capital. Among the most prominent hospitals in Brazil are: 

SHIS - QI 07 - Conj. F - Lago Sul Brasília

Tel: (61) 3213-4848 

  1. Napoleão de Barros, 715 - Vila Clementino, São Paulo

Tel: +55 11 5576-4000 

Av. Ibirapuera, 981 - Vila Clementino, São Paulo

Tel: +55 11 5583-7001 

Av. Ayrton Senna, 2550 - Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro

Tel: +55 21 3883-1000 

  1. Bambina, 98 - Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro

Tel: +55 21 3444-1000 

Brazil has a publicly funded ambulance service that is free to all citizens known as Servico de Assistencia Medica Urgente (SAMU). Paramedics are not permitted under Brazilian law to provide advanced life support measures. You can call 190 for emergencies or 193 for an ambulance.


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