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Healthcare in Costa Rica > Costa Rica Healthcare & Health Insurance FAQ > Should I obtain expat health insurance in Costa Rica or are the costs of private healthcare low enough to pay out of pocket?

Should I obtain expat health insurance in Costa Rica or are the costs of private healthcare low enough to pay out of pocket?

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Private healthcare costs for surgery or emergency care in Costa Rica can be very high. Having international health insurance is advisable.

Many expats shared their experiences at private hospitals in Costa Rica on our Costa Rica forum. Based upon these discussions, the billing practices at private hospitals is similar to the billing practices at hospitals in the United States. One expat recalled, "My wife and I have Medicare Parts A & B, which we use for some medical services when visiting the USA and will have in case of major health issues later for which we might want to have done in the USA. We also have international health insurance which covers us 'worldwide, excluding the USA'. It excludes some pre-existing conditions. My wife had an emergency in CR and went to a private hospital by ambulance. Our insurance paid about $34,500 - we only had to pay our deductible. (The hospital originally billed about $70,000, but the insurance company negotiated that down.)"

According to the US State Department, "We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in the event of unforeseen medical complications. An air ambulance flight can cost $25,000 to $50,000 USD and will often take place only after payment has been received in full."

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Apr 27, 2019

First Published: Apr 27, 2019

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Costa Rica from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Healthcare in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is has both public and private healthcare systems. When you become a resident, you must enroll in the public healthcare system (CAJA). Many expats use the public system for routine healthcare and have private expat health insurance for specialists, surgeries and emergencies.

Costa Rica is has both public and private healthcare systems. When you become a resident, you must enroll in the public healthcare system (CAJA). Many expats use the public system for routine health...

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Expats discuss their experiences giving birth in Costa Rica. Topics covered include public (CAJA) hospitals vs. private hospitals,high C-section rates, maternity coverage, dual citizenship, permanent residency for expat parents with babies born in Costa Rica, baby stores and formula options.

Expats discuss their experiences giving birth in Costa Rica. Topics covered include public (CAJA) hospitals vs. private hospitals,high C-section rates, maternity coverage, dual citizenship, permanent...

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