Healthcare in Puerto Rico



Expats moving to Puerto Rico can expect the same healthcare services as in the United States, but the overall condition still varies based on one’s location. The unincorporated US territory has well-equipped hospital and clinics, qualified specialists and private health insurers.

More than a decade ago, about 38% of Puerto Rico’s population had access to health insurance under the Puerto Rico Health Reform (Reforma de Salud de Puerto Rico). The programme provides free medical services to the poor by contracting private health insurers. Prior the new health reform, the government implemented a privatisation plan which included the sale of state-run hospitals to private investors. The plan also approved a free and low-cost health insurance plan for indigent and impoverished citizens.

Healthcare Coverage for Expats

Currently, three private insurance companies are participating in the new Health Reform programme: Triple-S Inc., Medical Card Systems and Humana. Insurance costs were covered by individual contributions and state funding. An American expat living on the island noted that insured patients have to pay minimal co-pay per visit or medication instead of the usual regular premiums. Private insurers also charge a fraction of the cost in mainland US. Medical fees, including doctor’s fees and lab costs, are paid before any service is extended.

Puerto Rico has a social security system which covers old-age, survivors and disability. This tax-funded benefit provides monthly cash allowance to an eligible worker and his dependents on the following circumstances:

- The worker elects to start receiving retirement benefits

- The worker dies

- The worker becomes disabled.

Doctors in Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican healthcare sector is the second largest job provider in the country next to the government and is accountable for 20% of the national GDP, but in 2015, dark clouds loomed over the Puerto Rican healthcare system. Medicaid declared a USD 200 million budget shortfall and healthcare providers were not getting properly paid. That same year, nearly 3,000 doctors began leaving the island in search of a more promising career and better salary in other countries abroad.

However, many qualified doctors and nurses still stayed in Puerto Rico, and most of them even received their degrees in the United States. One drawback, however, is the long waiting time. Although appointments are scheduled, doctors still attend to patients on a “first come, first serve” basis. It is not unusual for a patient to endure one to four hours in the doctor’s waiting room. Moreover, most receptionists and hospital staff do not speak English. Most doctors, however, are bilingual.

Hospitals and Emergency Services

Puerto Rico houses several high-quality Joint Commission accredited medical facilities. And since this country is a US territory, there has never been a restriction on imports of state-of-the-art medical equipment so expatriates can expect only the most modern treatments and tools. Currently, there is an estimated one hospital per 40,295 people in Puerto Rico which is an acceptable ratio compared to the one hospital per 64,595 residents in Michigan, US. There are about 91 hospitals scattered across the country, and some of the most prominent are:

Spanish Hospital Auxilio Mutuo Ave. Ponce de León, Parade 37 ½, Hato Rey, PR

Tel: 787-758-2000

258 Calle San Jorge, San Juan, 00912, Puerto Rico

Tel: +1 787-727-1000

1451 Ave Dr Ashford, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Tel: +1 787-721-2160

Hwy 349 Km 2.7, Cerro-Las Mesas, Mayagüez, 00681, Puerto Rico

Tel: +1 787-834-6000

In the case of emergency, contact the following numbers:

  • Emergency services: 911
  • Fire department: (787) 343-2330
  • Police department: (787) 343-2020

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