The public health care system in Costa Rica is based on socialized medicine and is actually very good treatment once you are seen by the doctor. However, due to the bureaucracy of public medicine scheduled appointments can be months, if not years, away. If there is an emergency they will admit you to the emergency room, but for exams, tests, etc the waiting period can be too long for some to endure. That is why many opt for the private medicine sector for immediate medical attention and top quality professionals.
You have to pay for private medicine and the public option is free to those that cannot afford it and a small monthly insurance policy for those that can, plus it is part of benefits for full time employees. However, the private costs are a fraction of that in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. For example we paid only $3,500 for my wife’s C-section for our most recent daughter’s birth and that included all the medicine and a night in the hospital; compared to $15,000 to $20,000 plus in the U.S. Costa Rica is also becoming a center for medical tourism due to more affordable plastic surgery, operations, and dental implants. Customers come from all over the World to have procedures done and then recover in a luxury hotel resort in paradise.
There are also private medical insurance policies you can pay annually that cover part of the costs. You pay in full for appointments and medical procedures, and then are reimbursed for 60% to 80% of the cost depending on the type of procedure or appointment. San Jose has some the best private medical facilities and most all of the doctors studied abroad in the U.S. or Europe, speak English, and highly qualified professionals.
The best private hospitals in the country are:
CIMA – http://www.hospitalsanjose.net/index.aspx
Hospital Catolica – http://www.hospitallacatolica.com/eng/index.php
Hospital Clinica Biblia – http://www.clinicabiblica.com/eng/index.php
There are also private clinics throughout the country and CIMA even has a satellite hospital in the Guanacaste. Both of our children were born in San Isidro, Perez Zeledon at the Hospital Clinica Labrador. We still go there for our pediatrician who that has an office in the building. Regular doctor checkups and dentist appointments range for $40 to $75. And all pharmacies have an onsite doctor you can visit for $20 to $40 for a consultation.
If you are considering moving to Costa Rica and one of your concerns is medical treatment, rest assure there are great options. Also if you are in need of surgery or dental implants consider traveling to Costa Rica for medical tourism.