Healthcare in Costa Rica



Needless to say, the quality of Costa Rica’s universal health care is one of the best in Latin America.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently placed Costa Rica in the top rankings for having a long life expectancy due to the fresh/healthy foods available to the residents and the country's ideal climate.

With the declining rate of infant mortality, Costa Rica proved it has effectively implemented the "cradle to grave" healthcare to citizens and legal residents. The infant mortality rate per 1000 births declined from 9.70 (2006) to 9.01 (2008). It is currently at 8.77 per 1000 births.

Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS)

Costa Rica's public healthcare system, known as Caja or Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), is available to all. Foreign nationals who are legal residents of Costa Rica can join CCSS by paying approximately 13 percent of the monthly income. CCSS's main role is to provide low-cost health care services. Expats should be prepared for the long queue, as people flock to avail the CCSS, which is accepted in most clinics and hospitals.

Private HealthCare/Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS)

Due to the long wait time of CCSS, some foreigners or retirees opt to buy the private insurance offered by the government-owned insurance monopoly or Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS). Private healthcare is also affordable and provides excellent quality medical care. Everyone is eligible to apply for INS. The cost is higher than CCSS, but is notably far below the cost of the US.

In the mid-2000s, international insurance providers have penetrated the Costa Rican market after the ratification of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). Currently, the cost of private health insurance in Costa Rica ranges from US$50 to US$100 per person monthly, depending on the age, gender and type of insurance.

Costa Rica's eco-tourism is now on a par with its medical tourism. Known for top-notch medical tourism, the boom of the health sector industry marked the country's outstanding reputation for its cost-effective procedures combined with locally-trained doctors. English speaking medical staff is available to cater to foreign nationals seeking medical health services.

It is said that the cost of the plastic surgery in Costa Rica is only a third or fourth of what it costs in the US, but with the same quality or result. The cost of a facelift in Costa Rica is approximately US$3,000 while in the US it can range from US$7,000 to US$15,000. Other common procedures are tummy tuck (US$2,500 to US$3,000), nose surgery (US$1,750), hair transplants (US$1,000), breast implants (US$3,000) and Botox (US$500). Cosmetic dental packages are at low cost, 50-70% cheaper compared to US, UK and Canada.


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Medicine costs in Costa Rica are said to be 80% lower than the US. Residents can buy medicines without a prescription except painkillers and narcotics. Pharmacists are allowed to prescribe medicines and to give free medical advice for less complicated conditions. English speaking employees are available to assist foreign nationals. Some pharmacies can deliver medicines to your home, and most are open for 24 hours.


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