Healthcare in El Salvador



The quality of healthcare in El Salvador is considered to be poor, with the country’s healthcare system ranked at 115th out of 190 countries all over the world. Access to healthcare in El Salvador is said to be in direct association with the level of income of an individual, with poor citizens having limited access and those who can shoulder medical bills given appropriate medical care.

Public healthcare system

The healthcare system in El Salvador is divided into two systems: the public healthcare sector and the private healthcare sector. The medical services provided by the public health system are composed of the following:

The public health system, which is regulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has 30 public hospitals in the country, plus various primary care facilities and 27 basic health care systems. According to the law of El Salvador, all individuals who are not insured shall be covered and given basic health services in public health institutions. However, only 20% of the total population in El Salvador have health insurance policies, which includes 18.4% covered by the Salvadoran Institute for Social Security and 2.1% covered by private health insurance companies.

MSPAS provides free health services to 79.5% of Salvadorans who do not have the ability to pay for hefty medical bills. Meanwhile, the ISSS covers all employed citizens in El Salvador and provides medical services for injuries and hazards related to their work.

The healthcare system of El Salvador is still in the development stage and is in dire need of reforms that will provide better health services and benefits, especially in the public health sector. The total expenditure per capita of El Salvador for its health sector is only $100, which is said to be very far from the regional average of $3,000.

Private healthcare

The private health sector in El Salvador offers fee-for-service care and has medical facilities mostly concentrated in urban areas.

The main private, for-profit hospitals in El Salvador are:

  • Pediatric Center,
  • Women’s Hospital,
  • Diagnostic Hospital,
  • and Gynecological Center.

Meanwhile, the not-for-profit private hospitals can be found in rural areas, and it is reported that 4.6% of the Salvadoran population seek health services in these institutions.

Foreign nationals who are residing in El Salvador should take note that they are required to pay for all medical services they seek in public or private health institutions.

More often than not, private clinics and hospitals cater more to expats and can provide advanced health services because public hospitals are often inefficient and quite crowded. It is recommended for foreigners to take out private health insurance before moving in El Salvador to ensure coverage in the event of a medical emergency.


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