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Expat Healthcare & Health Insurance in Natal, Brazil

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An expat living outside of Natal, Brazil talks about the healthcare system in Brazil, the lower cost of prescription medicines and more. He advises other expats to purchase private health insurance.

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Expat Healthcare Advice for Natal

Brazil does have a National Health Care program and my wife and I have taken advantage of this service for relatively minor health issues. But it is a national health care program that must be funded by the government with many cities such as Rio de Janerio unable to fund many of these clinics and public hospitals to the degree that they should be. We are retired and our health issues are relatively minor but we feel strongly about having a paid for medical insurance plan. This plan pays for annual physicals that include treadmill stress test, visit with cardiologist, Urologist, blood tests and a personal consultation with your doctor about the results. Mine lasted nearly a full hour. We looked for a doctor who spoke English and was very good in his/her field. We chose a private practice doctor in Natal, Brazil who performed his studies under the direction of Dr. Christian Bernard in South Africa. So my advice.......live in or near a big city such as Natal, Brazil, spend some time talking with insurance agents about doctors and qualifications in your area and do not depend only on the national social medicine programs. Purchase private medical insurance. Mine is from AMIL who's parent company is United Health Care.

Emergency Medical Care in Natal

I live in Praia de Pipa, Brazil and small fishing/tourist village on the Coast of NE Brazil. Pipa is located in the State of Rio Grande do Norte and is about 64 km from Natal by car (hour drive). Tabau do Sol is the city with Pipa listed as a suburb and is located about 5 km away. Tabau has an emergency room and doctors 24/7 and the city operates 2 or 3 ambulances from the clinic. This is a public clinic and no charges are made for treatment of patients. My wife, myself and some other foreigners living in the area use this facility and they are very professional and the doctors appear competent. This facility does have the staff and equipment to accept critical care patients but they do ship them off to a hospital in Natal once the patient is stable. The nearest hospital is in Natal. There are a number of public and private hospitals in Natal but we have not had to use either of these in the 2 years since we moved to Brazil.

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Quality of Healthcare in Surrounding Area

Natal, Bazil has a number of specialists for a range of health issues that you would normally find in a large city. My doctor is a Cardiologist who is well trained and enjoys a very good professional reputation. But doctors here take on patients regardless of their specialty. My wife has had some skin issues requiring specialist in dermatology and some out-patient surgeries. Excellent care and facilities with many of these doctors do speak English. All covered by our paid for insurance.

Prescription Medicines

There is a pharmacy on every street corner of almost every city in Brazil so finding a pharmacy is no problem. I do take prescription medications and on my first visit with my new doctor he made it clear that the meds I was taking from the USA were out-dated and better meds were available. He switched my prescription and these meds are readily available at all the pharmacies that I have been to. It is hard to beat the USA $4.00 prescription program for a long list of certain meds. But buying the medications here have shown to be readily available and cheaper (not considering the USA $4.00 meds) than my home country.

Expat Health Insurance in Brazil

For us, medical insurance in Brazil is cheaper than medical insurance in the USA. I have no deductibles and my insurance cost is about 1/2 of what it would cost me for insurance in the USA. We are in our early 60's and pay about $1,400 per month (for both of us) compared to a similar plan (higher end plan) in the USA at $2,400 per month for both of us. This Brazilian plan has paid in full our complete annual physicals and lab tests and we have had several other visits where the insurance paid 100% with no problems with the insurance company.

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