protected zones extend underwater
Excerpted from Living Abroad
in Costa Rica
How’s the medical care
in Costa Rica?
A healthy place
Many people move to Costa Rica at least in part for health reasons.
Some are suffering from stress- and work-related conditions that
often clear up after a few months of this country’s saner
pace and salubrious environment.
Others have no specific complaint but are drawn to the high quality
medical care, which is extremely cheap if, as a resident, you become
part of the country’s socialized medicine system, and is still
quite a bargain if you opt to go the private route.
Costa Rica spends a lot of money to keep its people healthy, and
statistics reflect this commitment. Life expectancy is high at just
under 77, infant mortality low at 10.6 per 1,000—figures that
put most other Latin American countries to shame, and compare favorably
with first world nations like Canada and the United States.
According to the United Nations, an impressive 98 percent of Ticos
have access to health care; as recently as the 1960s, the figure
was 15 percent. Ninety-two percent of people here have access to
clean water; in Guatemala the figure is 62%, and in El Salvador
only 47% of the population has such access.
Also see: Private
versus public medical care in Costa Rica: Three
expats weigh in with their personal experiences
Costa Rica’s socialized medical system
In 2012 nearly 50 million Americans were without medical insurance
Rica has made a commitment to provide health care to all of its
residents, and even visitors can take advantage of the high quality,
low cost care available here. For a small monthly fee (usually
under $60) foreign residents can be a part of the public system,
where everything from drugs to dentistry is included, and care
is in public clinic and hospitals. In fact, the law now requires permanent
foreign residents to pay into the system, whether they want to
get their care from it or not.
For a little more each month anyone (not just residents) can sign
on with the INS, the state insurance provider—this route lets you
choose your own doctor. International policies like Blue Cross/Blue
Shield are accepted at the excellent private hospitals and clinics
here. If you have no insurance and don't want to join up with the
public system here, you can pay out-of-pocket and spend about half
of what you would in the U.S.
And if you're cringing, thinking of third-world hospitals with
poor hygiene and badly trained staff, think again. The University
of Costa Rica has one of the most respected medical schools in all
of Central America and the Caribbean, and many doctors do further
study in Europe, Canada, or the United States.
The private hospitals in particular have up-to-date equipment,
like Hospital CIMA's open MRI, the only one in Central America.
Confidence in the system is expressed by the number of people who
come to Costa Rica just to have surgery, whether it's a triple bypass
or a face-lift.
Major Private Clinics in the San José Area
In Ezcazú, a suburb to the west of San José
In San Antonio de Guadalupe, a suburb of San José
In downtown San José, Calle Central, between Avenidas 14