Health insurance in Costa Rica

Have you decided to live in or visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Insurance

Don’t forget to purchase Costa Rica travel insurance or Costa Rica expat insurance for you and your family! This gives you peace of mind, and helps you to avoid any unexpected financial, health or legal risks. Coverage includes repatriation, hospitalization, civil liability and other medical expenses.

Student insurance Costa Rica

Insurance to cover your studies in Costa Rica.



/ month

Expatriate insurance Costa Rica

Health insurance to cover your expatriation to Costa Rica.



/ month

Travel insurance Costa Rica

International health insurance to cover your trip to Costa Rica.



/ trip

Any questions? Need advice?

Costa Rica health insurance information

Costa Rica Insurance

Political system: Democratic Republic
Capital: San José
Surface area: 51,100 km²
Population: 4,906 million
Languages spoken: Spanish
Currency: Costa Rican Colon

How the Costa Rican healthcare system works

Costa Rica’s healthcare system is quite good, and stands out from other Latin American countries, but still has many flaws. It has the highest life expectancy on the continent, but only 78 years. It also has one of the lowest mortality rates on the continent, at 9%. If you’re planning to expatriate to Costa Rica or stay there for a while, this doesn’t mean that the system is similar to those in Europe. Indeed, healthcare personnel are less qualified and medical infrastructures and equipment less developed than in Europe. The Costa Rican healthcare system faces another major problem: the public health sector is increasingly unable to keep up with demand.
The Costa Rican healthcare system is backed by social security and financed by contributions from the State, employers and workers, so as to provide care for the entire Costa Rican population. In fact, over 85% of the population is covered by this social insurance. This social security fund provides comprehensive healthcare coverage and services under two types of insurance:

General public insurance ;
Public contributory insurance.

Dues in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has set up a public healthcare system that is exclusive to Costa Rican citizens who are most in financial need. This means that all employed residents and expatriates must pay for access to healthcare. As an expatriate, you will never be able to benefit from Costa Rica’s free healthcare system. To stay in Costa Rica, you must prove that you have sufficient income. You will therefore have to pay the same contributions as Costa Ricans to the “Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS)”, also known as “the Fund”. Contributions vary according to your salary (between 7% and 11%). As a retiree in Costa Rica, the amount of contributions will be assessed against the initial financial sum you declared when you applied for your visa.
Costa Rica has three types of medical infrastructure:

  • Hospitals ;
  • Clinics ;
  • The “ebais”.

The ebais are the basic health care teams considered to be the Caisse’s first line of health care, grouped together in medical centers. They are made up of at least one doctor, one orderly and one primary care medical records technical assistant.

How do I consult a general practitioner or specialist in Costa Rica?

First of all, you can easily visit a GP in a hospital or clinic. Once on site, waiting times can be quite long in an ebais. You’ll pay between $40 and $60 for a consultation with a general practitioner, with medication included in the cost. You’ll find ebais in almost every major city in Costa Rica, open from 7am to 4pm. It is strongly recommended that you arrive early, as the majority of the population go exclusively to the public sector for health care.

Private consultations

If you can afford to visit private hospitals or clinics, or if your private health insurance covers them, you’ll find numerous private services throughout the country. You’ll soon be under the care of a general practitioner, and the quality of service is superior to that of the public sector, although the cost of consultations will be higher – around $70 per consultation.

Public consultations

If you want to go to a public hospital to see a GP, we recommend you bring a translator with you. There is no guarantee that the practitioner who will see you will speak English. Alternatively, ask in advance if a member of the health staff speaks English and can help you fill in health forms and speak with the doctor.

If you take medication regularly and need a prescription to collect it from a pharmacy, try to find the Spanish name or equivalent beforehand. This will facilitate communication between you and your doctor and ensure that the right drugs are prescribed.
Remember to bring your passport. We strongly recommend that you take out international health insurance. You’ll be able to take care of yourself privately, which is highly recommended if you’re moving to Costa Rica.
This also applies to specialist doctors. You can visit your embassy’s website, where you’ll find a list of specialists and general practitioners.

Pharmacies in Costa Rica

Remember to bring a prescription if you need prescription-only medication. A pharmacist may refuse to dispense a drug if you don’t have a prescription. Drugstore prices in Costa Rica are lower than in Europe. However, you won’t find all the medicines you’re used to taking, and will have to switch to equivalent products. Please note that some medicines are not available at all. In Costa Rica, for example, abortion is not permitted. Don’t forget to take along a contraceptive method and a morning-after pill in case of problems. Never buy medicines sold on the street, as there are countless counterfeit products.

Dental care in Costa Rica

Medical tourism is very popular in Costa Rica, where the care is good and recognized as among the best in South America. Dental treatment is less expensive than in Europe or North America, which is why many tourists come here for treatment. For standard dental care, you don’t need to worry: dentists in Costa Rica are highly qualified. However, we recommend that you consult a private dentist if you want to be sure of receiving quality treatment.
Here is a list of average fees charged by private dental practices in Costa Rica:

  • Oral examination / specialist assessment / CT and pano radius: $200 ;
  • Deep cleaning with scaling and root planing per dial: $140 ;
  • Tooth extraction without surgery: $90.

Hospitals in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the quality of hospital care is one of the best in South America. However, the country is still a long way from joining the top 10 best healthcare systems in the world. This means you won’t find the same quality of healthcare as in European countries. Hospital healthcare is decent, but waiting times are very long. Most of the time, you’ll be faced with long queues before you can get a consultation with a health clinic. It is essential that you are covered by private insurance so that you can receive treatment in private clinics and hospitals. The quality of care is better, and waiting times are much shorter.

Paramedical care in Costa Rica

You can consult an optician in Costa Rica at much lower prices than in Europe or North America. In fact, you’ll pay around three times less in Costa Rica for the same type of service. Approximately $100 USD for a pair of prescription glasses, $130 for a pair of sunglasses.
You can consult physiotherapists in Costa Rica in specialized or independent clinics. In a specialized clinic, you’ll pay an average of $35 USD for a consultation and $40 USD for a neurology session.

All you need to know about pregnancy and maternity in Costa Rica

In both private and public hospitals, the cost of pregnancy and maternity is much lower than in Europe or North America.
If you have AMO (Caja) or private health insurance, your childbirth and maternity costs will be covered. The difference between these two plans can be seen in the quality of care you receive, depending on the coverage you choose.

Pregnancy in Costa Rica with public health insurance

If you have opted for Caja and are pregnant, your status will be that of “preferred patient”. In other words, you’ll be taken care of faster, and any health care you need will be provided with shorter waiting times. Another advantage you’ll get with public health insurance is that all your baby’s care will be free up to the age of 1. This includes blood tests, medical examinations and other expenses. However, your medical appointments may be booked for you and you may not be able to reschedule them or change the appointment date. Finally, you can’t rule out the possibility of being treated by a doctor who speaks only Spanish, as this could be a major obstacle to the smooth running of your pregnancy and maternity.

Pregnancy in Costa Rica with private health insurance

If you’ve opted for private health insurance, you’ll have much more choice when it comes to the course of your maternity. In fact, you’ll have access to greater flexibility in terms of the dates of your medical appointments, and you’ll also be able to choose which doctor will monitor your pregnancy. Treatment times are even shorter than for a person with “preferential patient” status in the public sector. The hospitals most renowned for the quality of their services and their state-of-the-art medical equipment are 3 private hospitals:

  • Clinica Biblica
  • CIMA
  • Clinica La Catolica

Giving birth in a private hospital

Finally, in a private hospital, you’ll also have much greater control over the progress of your delivery. You set up your Birth Plan. A Birth Plan is a structured plan, often written out and concerning all the actions, appointments and examinations you will undergo before giving birth and finally the planning of your delivery (vaginal delivery or caesarean etc…). If you want a choice of delivery method, it’s essential that you go private. You choose which room you want to be in after the birth and how long you want to stay. It’s a good idea to make sure that the doctor who will be monitoring your pregnancy speaks English, as this can relieve a lot of stress if you can communicate easily with your doctor. Not all public hospitals offer optional pain relief treatments such as epidurals, whereas in the private sector you can choose.
From the moment your child is born in Costa Rica, he or she can obtain Costa Rican nationality as well as your own. If you plan to travel with your child before he or she reaches 3 months of age, you will need to obtain a “Permiso de Salida” issued by your doctor.

Vaccines in Costa Rica

If you’re planning to expatriate to Costa Rica, or to stay for several months or even years, you’ll need to have your vaccination schedule up to date. The vaccines that must be kept up to date are those against :

  • Hepatitis A and B;
  • Rabies;
  • Typhoid.

There’s a low risk of contracting malaria, so when you’re in Costa Rica, we strongly recommend that you wear long, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, impregnated if possible with insecticide and especially mosquito repellent. Also use DEET-based repellents (30% to 50%), Icaridine 30% or Citriodiol on all parts of your body that are exposed when you go out.

Is it necessary to take out private international health insurance in Costa Rica?

The answer is yes. It is strongly recommended that you take out private international medical cover in Costa Rica, whatever your profile. In Costa Rica, access to public health care can be compromised, as demand far outstrips the capacity of health care facilities and personnel to care for the entire population. With Caja, the compulsory health insurance scheme, the majority of Costa Ricans go to public health establishments for treatment. This leads to extremely long waiting times, compromising access to healthcare. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’re unlikely to find a health clinic that understands and speaks your language. The likelihood of him speaking English is equally low. The quality of care is decent, but you won’t find the same level of comfort as in European hospitals. Under no circumstances does La Caja cover repatriation costs. If you do not have private repatriation insurance, you will be responsible for all costs.

Which private international health insurance should I take out in Costa Rica, and for whom?

Whatever your profile, taking out health insurance is highly recommended if you wish to stay in or expatriate to Costa Rica.

  • Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a nomadic worker, an annuitant, a retiree or an employee, it’s essential that you take out GoldExpat private health insurance. On the one hand, to protect you against the health costs of private establishments. Secondly, to be covered in the event of medical repatriation to a foreign country. Also in your home country, so you can be covered for healthcare outside Costa Rica.
  • If you’re going to Costa Rica as a tourist, travel insurance is recommended. In the public sector, waiting times and treatment can be very long. The quality of care is sometimes mediocre.
  • If you’re a student going to study, do an internship or a humanitarian mission in Costa Rica, the same applies. We offer GoldStudent, an international health insurance plan tailored to your student profile.

If you would like more information, please contact one of our advisors by e-mail or telephone.

Visas and diplomacy

If you are a French national, you do not need a visa for tourist stays of less than 90 days. All you need is a passport valid for at least six months. If you want to expatriate to Costa Rica, you’ll need a visa that depends on your situation here. We advise you to contact the Costa Rican consulate in your current country of residence to find out about the latest procedures.

French Embassy in San José
En Curridabat Del Indoor Club – 200 Sur 50 Oeste –
BP 10177 – 1000 San José
Tel: [506] 234 41 67
Fax: [506] 234 41 95

Embassy of Costa Rica in Paris
4, rue Square Rapp – 75007 Paris
Tel: – sect. consulaire

Is Costa Rica safe?

As in other countries, follow the basic safety rules (i.e. don’t show off your wealth, don’t leave your belongings unattended, and depending on the area, don’t risk going out alone too late at night). The crime rate is high, with a steady increase in drug-related homicides over the past few years. As far as crimes against foreigners are concerned, snatchings are not uncommon, and there are occasional cases of armed robbery with assault.

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