Expat healthcare in Uruguay is one of the foremost concerns of many of the expats that move there.Generally, expats that live there already offer assurances about the health care system to those that are exploring the idea of a move to Uruguay.
In a thread about expat health care in Uruguay on our Uruguay Expat Forum, an expat shared information about the structure of the system there.
In short, the healthcare system consists of three tiers. It's important to understand each one and know what will be appropriate you and (if applicable) your family.
There is a Public Option For Health Care in Uruguay
1) The basic healthcare system run by ASSE is meant to serve people with very low income and is totally free. (ASSE on Wikipedia (translated to English) and ASSE on Wikipedia (Original Spanish Version))
One expat advised an expat moving to Uruguay: "Hope you are also considering healthcare insurance, the public system is for poor or unemployed Uruguayans and is underfunded and overcrowded."
Groups of Institutions Called Mutualistas Exist in Uruguay
The Mutualistas. Mutualistas are groups of healthcare institutions spread across the country (hospitals, clinics, etc.) that provide all necessary healthcare needs. [Editor's note: almost all mutualistas have an age cap and/or pre-existing conditions restrictions.]
There are More Private Health Care Options For Expats in Uruguay
3) The British Hospital (not a Mutualista and a bit more expensive) and the American type insurance companies (Blue Cross, etc.). (Editors note: The expat is referring to a specific hospital in Montevido, but similar arrangements at hospitals are available in other parts of the country).
If you decide you'll be more comfortable with expat health insurance for private medical care, get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.
An expat reported about health care in Punta del Este:
If living here try to join a local insurance plan through one of the hospitals. There are many but if you have existing conditions or a checkered medical history or are overweight they likely will not cover you. In that case join one of the ambulance programs such as Cardio Movil. You pay a monthly fee for ambulance and doctor services and they come to your home. They also have a clinic with most specialists covered. You pay about $25 U.S. a month and then to see a doctor costs about $5. You pay more for minor procedures that that do but equal to what my co-pay was in the states mostly and of course you save on the annual insurance and deductibles.
Proximity of Health Care Throughout Uruguay
An expat reporting about health care in Atlantida wrote that there are "specialists about 1/2 hour away but for anything major you go to Montevido, which is an hour or more from me."
Another expat reporting about health care in Punta del Diablo wrote: "Well, we're a ways out. We're independent folk seldom needing any medical care, but when going for immigration checkups, blood, labs, etc., we travel to Chuy [less than one hour]. For procedures like mammograms, etc., we go to Rocha [1.25 hours or more]."
Prescriptions in Uruguay
The expat in Atlantida also reported: "Prescriptions are available. It is cheaper to get a prescription and pick them up at the pharmacy of the mutualista you belong to. You can also get them at a local pharmacy. if you have the container you often do not need a prescription for common items They are probably similar in price to what I would have paid in Canada."
Another expat wrote about prescriptions in Uruguay:
If you sign up with a Mutualista, you can usually get everything at their pharmacy.
Or you can buy directly from a store such as Farmashop, generally without a prescription.
Just search their online store and see the prices for what you want.