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Healthcare and Medical Treatment

Colombia - Healthcare and Medical Treatment

There have been a number of improvements in the standards of healthcare offered in Colombia since the 1980's. In 1993 the way the public healthcare services were funded was completely restructured and costs shifted from the provider to the public. Employees are now obliged to pay into the health plans and employers add to these funds. This covers around two thirds of the population although the poorest members of society still appear to be falling through the net.

The hospitals in the country offer a good quality of care, and the staff are well trained and professional. Many have trained at universities in the UK or the US so English speaking expats should feel comfortable in their care.

Heart disease is the primary cause of premature death in Colombia. This is followed by strokes, respiratory diseases, road accidents and diabetes. There are diseases which are spread by infected water in the lowland and coastal areas, such as cerebral malaria and leishmaniasis. Immunizations for children against infectious diseases are regularly carried out and the country’s programme of vaccinations is excellent, with over 90% of the population included.

The fifth leading cause of death in the working age population in Colombia is acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Nearly 240,000 people, the majority of which are women and young people, or 0.6% of the population had been infected with the AIDS virus since it arrived in Colombia in late 1983, according to Colombia's National Health Institute. In 2005, it was estimated that the number of adults and children, between the ages of 0 and 49 years of age, living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) ranged from 160,000 to 310,000. The comparable figure for women, between the ages of 15 and 49 years, was 62,000. The number of AIDS and Hepatitis B cases was on the rise.

Expats are advised to take out private medical insurance, even if they pay into the national healthcare plan. Most health issues can be dealt with at one of the many hospitals or clinics, but if you should require treatment for a specific illness then it is advisable to have the extra cover in case specialist care is required. If you already have a condition which requires regular medication then it is a good idea to check in advance if your medication is authorised in Colombia, as there are some drugs which are not, even if they are widely available in countries such as the UK and the USA. If not, you should consult with your doctor about alternatives prior to travelling.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.