Healthcare in Ecuador



The health care system in Ecuador is adequate, highly regarded and surprisingly affordable. Nowadays, this country is also becoming a haven not just for medical tourists but also among expats who want to assure themselves that their medical and healthcare needs are top priorities.

Since Rafael Correa became the president of Ecuador in 2007, the country has seen significant improvements in terms of healthcare. Ecuador is now one of the top five Latin American nations that offer low cost but high quality healthcare services. In fact, President Correa has doubled the annual funding on healthcare which enabled the local government to close the health provision gap between the poor and rich members of the society. Foreign nationals living and working in Ecuador can choose to take out private health insurance or contribute to the Social Security Institute for health coverage in the country. Either way, they will still have access to budget-friendly and world-class healthcare services.

The Social Security Healthcare

Healthcare coverage for expats in Ecuador changed significantly in 2014 when the local government allowed residence permit holders and employed foreign nationals to join the Social Security healthcare scheme by paying a monthly fee. Contributions to the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social (IESS) are deducted automatically from the employees’ payroll. Foreign nationals classified as residents contribute a monthly fee of USD 65 while those who have spouse or dependent/s pay and additional USD 12.62.

The IESS scheme covers all fees including prescription drugs. There are also no pre-existing or age restrictions, making this coverage one of the best in Latin America. Another important benefit that expats enjoy is that emergency services and treatments in any public or private medical facility in Ecuador are covered by the IESS.

Public Healthcare

The Social Security is different from the public healthcare system of Ecuador in the sense that it provides healthcare services to workers with formal employment and is mandatory affiliated through their employers. Meanwhile, the public health care system offers medical treatment free of charge to all citizens of the country in general public hospitals without the need for an appointment. Despite the huge budget cuts during the recent years, a majority of expats in Ecuador still consider the public healthcare system of good quality. Those who live in Cuenca often utilise the public healthcare for services that range from respiratory illnesses to open heart surgeries.

Doctors in Ecuador

Most of the general or public hospitals in Ecuador’s large cities and capitals of provinces are equipped with the latest medical technologies and staffed with qualified doctors and well-trained medical personnel. Since 2008, Ecuador has been providing basic health care which includes visits to the doctor, basic medications and basic surgeries free of charge.

Private Doctors in Ecuador, on the other hand, are known for being well-trained. Some are even educated in Europe, the United States and in the best medical schools in Latin America such as those located in Cuba, Argentina and Chile. Considering their impressive educational background, expats will be relieved to know that most of Ecuador’s GPs and specialists speak English.

Hospitals and Medical Services

Meanwhile, smaller towns outside the Ecuador city centre have basic hospitals that provide health services in the areas of clinical medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, and surgery. Rural communities also have community health care centres or day hospitals staffed with rural doctors that cater to patients who need medical treatment of fewer than 24 hours. The following numbers can be contacted in case of an emergency situation in Ecuador:

  • Medical and all types of emergency: 911
  • Fire Department: 102
  • Police: 101

Ecuador also has specialized public hospitals that cater to patients with chronic illnesses and provide better services for special cases. Some of these health facilities include Children Hospitals, Geriatric Hospitals, Gynecologic Hospitals, as well as Oncology Institutes. The best private hospitals are situated in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca whereas the latter houses medical facilities that offer the lowest costs. Below are some of the most prominent hospitals in Ecuador:


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