Why Costa Rica is recognized for having world-class medical attention?

Written by MJ Blanco

Costa Rica was highlighted as the third country in the World with the best medical attention, preceded only by Portugal in the first place, and Spain occupying the second place.

According to the International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2020, it occupies the third place in its Health category. By almost any standard, the country has some of the best health services in Latin America.

Now, if you are traveling soon to this tropical place or if you are considering some Costa Rica vacation and travel packages, then here you have some interesting information about how the social security works in the country.

Here, citizens and legal residents have two systems in which they can access the health care. The first one is the universal health system administered by the government, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund or Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS), in Spanish, which is known as “Caja”, and has more than 60 years existing and, of course, the private option.

The first option is public. It means that everyone can have free access to the different health services from emergencies to other services such as dentistry, psychology, gynecology and obstetrics, gerontology, child specialized attention, and much more.

This system is based on the idea of a solidarity contribution among all workers in which, pursuant to Costa Rican legislation, the employer must contribute to the social security system of its workers. For these purposes, prior to the payment of social security contributions, the employers must be registered at the central or regional offices of the CCSS.

Subsequently, a percentage is discounted that is reduced according to the salary of each worker and contributes to paying their social charges. In this way, together we contribute to sustaining social security and the system that allows us to have access to high quality health services at a very low cost.

Both, the public option and the private one, are constantly improving its services and are updated regularly. For example, there are new medical clinics through the national territory, new equipment acquired, and improvements in staff training.

The data speaks by itself: Throughout the country there are over 29 public hospitals and 250 clinics. Thanks to this, it is possible to find excellent health services in regions like Guanacaste in the Northern Pacific, Manuel Antonio in the Central Pacific side, Arenal in La Fortuna, and the Caribbean side, which can be considered as distanced from the capital city.

So, no matter where travelers are spending their vacations in the country, they will always have a close medical center in case of any emergency. This is important to take into consideration specially if you are traveling with your family.

Despite all progress, costs are low compared to those in the United States. This is one of the main reasons why Costa Rica is so attractive among the retirees and expats in general. The possibility of having great medical attention at a low cost is a luxury that many countries do not have.

Once someone becomes a legal resident and pays the universal social security system (typically 7-11% of their declared income), they qualify for public health care through the CCSS.

Private health insurance policies are also available and many expats choose a combination of both public and private. Those who prefer to simply pay out of pocket for the procedures can save up to 30-90% compared to prices in the US.

There are four great private hospitals that people prefer when considering to pay for the procedures or medical consultations. These are:

  • Hospital CIMA: Located in San Jose and Liberia Guanacaste, this is the best equipped as it features most of the modern technology available. The hospital is managed by the International Hospital Corporation of Dallas, in Texas.
  • Clínica Católica: This hospital is located in the east part of San Jose and offers great amenities for foreigners looking for treatments and procedures there. One of the best things about this place is that it offers lodging for companions while their relatives are hospitalized.
  • Hospital Clínica Bíblica: This one is located in the heart of San Jose and has a rooftop conditioned as heliport to receive emergencies. There are another one in Liberia too.
  • Hospital Metropolitano: This hospital recently opened in San Jose and has different locations in the capital city. Its services are varied and people can acquire an insurance with them that lower the costs of the medical attention.

Besides all of this, the country has 3 JCI certified medical centers in the nation’s capital, San Jose. This is the highest global designation awarded in the healthcare industry.

Pharmacies are also available across the country. Here you can access to vaccinations and medicines in case you require it. Additionally, other products such as diapers, lotions, sunblock, powder milks and proteins, vitamins, flu drugs, and more can be found in the drugstores. There are some that operates 24 hours and others that has express service, so you can have your medication without leaving your home or your hotel if you are on vacation.

Now you have a better idea of why Costa Rica’s health system is admired and recognized worldwide.

Contact us if you have any comments or questions about this!


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