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Health Service

Costa Rica - Health Service

Costa Rica has a very high standard of medical treatment with a full range of care services available, although waiting times can be lengthy. The free public health insurance system (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS) is available to all citizens and legal residents, but other foreigners will be charged for non-emergency medical treatment. There are ten major public hospitals in Costa Rica; four of these are located in San Jose and one of which is a specialist children’s hospital. Small public clinics (EBAIS) are located in most towns and villages. In order to receive medical care through CCSS you must register for 10%-15% of your income to be taken for public health insurance. If you are under the age of 55 this payment will include a pension which will be released to you upon turning 65 years old. It is possible to apply for this via the Association of Residents of Costa Rica, whom you can contact using the following details:

Association of Residents of Costa Rica
An association which assists people living in, retiring in or moving to Costa Rica.
Tel: +506 4052 4052
Email: info@arcr.net

Costa Rica also has provisions for low-cost private medical care, and medical tourism to Costa Rica is becoming increasingly popular. All insurance within Costa Rica, including medical insurance, is provided by the government. The specialist branch dealing with insurance is called INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros de Costa Rica). This private insurance will cover between 80%-100% of the price of medical care and costs approximately $60-$130 per month per person. For INS contact details please see below:

Instituto Nacional de Seguros de Costa Rica
The governmental service for provision of all insurance products in Costa Rica.
Tel: +506 2287 6000
Email: contactenos@ins-cr.com

It is also possible to purchase international health care insurance from companies based outside Costa Rica, but this will usually be a more expensive option.

Pharmacies in Costa Rica can provide a range of different medication and treatment options without requiring a prescription. It is normal practice as a first step to consult a pharmacist when dealing with minor ailments, before visiting a health clinic.

If you require emergency medical assistance whilst in Costa Rica you should dial 911.

Foreigners travelling to Costa Rica may require basic vaccines – you should visit your GP at least 6-8 weeks before entering Costa Rica to discuss your personal requirements. Malaria is rare in Costa Rica but does exist in some coastal regions (mainly in Limón in the Southern Caribbean area) and is more likely to be present during the rainy season. Dengue, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, is occurring with increasing frequency in Costa Rica and there is no vaccination for this. To protect against both malaria and dengue it is important to keep skin covered and use insect repellent.

Tap water is safe to drink throughout most of Costa Rica though it is always advisable to check with your accommodation provider. Avoiding tap water and ice cubes in the port cities of Limon and Puntarenas is also advisable. There is a risk of suffering from altitude sickness when travelling to regions over 2500m above sea level so make sure that you keep hydrated, and if you are feeling unwell you should descend to a lower altitude. Costa Rica’s population is generally very healthy, although there are many cases of heart disease and cancers. As a large majority of Costa Rican men have active lifestyles with frequent manual work, accidental injuries are prevalent amongst men of all ages.

Costa Rica has very strict laws on smoking. Smoking is banned in all public places, including bars, bus and taxi terminals, casinos, parks, public buildings, restaurants, stadiums and university campuses. Any kind of promotion designed to increase consumption of cigarettes is also banned. Smoking is fairly common in Costa Rica – around 16% of Costa Rican men smoke (lower than the average for middle-income countries) and around 7.5% of Costa Rican women smoke (higher than the average for middle-income countries) – however the smoking ban has been highly effective and is almost always adhered to.

There are many English language counselling services available throughout Costa Rica, some of which specialise in services for expats and their families to help them through the difficult process of integrating into a foreign culture.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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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.