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  • Writer's pictureAhsan Malyk

Does US Health Insurance Work In Costa Rica?

Expats living in Costa Rica are generally satisfied with the quality of the healthcare system and health insurance. The United Nations ranks it as one of the top 20 public systems in the world and among the best in Latin America.

Because healthcare is so well known, the country is also known for medical tourism, especially among people in countries like the United States where healthcare costs are high.

This section of the guide provides an overview of Costa Rica's healthcare system. Whether you're only considering using statutory health insurance or want to explore the benefits of private health insurance, we've covered the pros and cons of both.

It also includes information on finding a doctor or specialist, childbirth, and expected average wait times.

How Costa Rica's healthcare system works

Costa Rica operates under a universal healthcare system. Expats can receive care in public or private schemes. Both are considered affordable. This section describes Costa Rica's public healthcare system, including covered procedures and costs. If you want to jump to the Private Medicine section, see below.

Costa Rica Healthcare Facts

  • As Costa Rica continues to improve its healthcare system, you can expect new facilities to appear on a regular basis.

  • Staff medical training is also constantly updated.

  • Life expectancy in this country is long. Almost 80 years old.

  • The most serious diseases in Costa Rica are Chagas disease, dengue fever, hepatitis A and B, leishmaniasis, leptospirosis, malaria, rabies and typhoid fever. Most medical tourists visit the country for access to top quality, affordable dental and eye care.

  • It is common to use both public and private health insurance (private insurance covers expenses not covered by public health insurance).

  • Many medicines that normally require a prescription in other countries are not listed here. This includes cholesterol medications, birth control pills, etc.

Does Costa Rica have free public healthcare?

Costa Rica has free public health care, but only for the most economically deprived Costa Rican citizens. This means that residents with jobs and expats will have to pay to use the public health care system. must show a means of

While living in Costa Rica, you must donate to Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). This is usually simply called kaja. When working in Costa Rica, your salary depends on your salary. For pensioners or rentistas living on savings, the amount you pay is based on the amount you declared when you applied for your visa.

How does healthcare in Costa Rica work?

As a foreigner, you must register with Caja as part of your residency process. We pay monthly premiums (7-11%) based on your income, even if your income comes from a pension or savings account instead of your regular salary.

It's also important to note that Costa Rica has three different types of medical facilities.

  • hospital;

  • Clinic;

  • ebais.

You can find some of the same services in hospitals and clinics, such as emergency rooms, general medicine, and specialty medicine. The hospital is open 24 hours a day, but the clinic is usually open from 7 am. The ebais provides general care such as check-ups and treatment of minor illnesses such as colds and sprains.

How can a foreigner register with Kaha?

Once in the country, register with the Costa Rican public health system. Once you have applied for and been approved for a residence permit, take this permit to your nearest Caja office. In addition to this permit, you must bring:

  • Passport.

  • Copies of passport ID page and Costa Rica immigration page (these copies must be notarized);

  • Residence permit (and copy).

If you work in Costa Rica, you must also submit a registration application to be completed by your employer. A receipt will be issued once all submissions have been submitted. Please keep this receipt in a safe place and present it when receiving your residence card (proof of payment to Kaha is required for approval).

What does public health care cover?

There is little that Costa Rica's universal health care system does not cover. Foreigners using public services can find everything in Kaha, from basic checkups to treatment, medications and major surgeries. Medical costs in Costa Rica

The monthly cost of public health insurance in Costa Rica depends on the income of the expat. Foreigners can expect to pay 7% to 11% of their monthly income to Kaha. As expected in a universal system, the more you earn per month, the more likely you are to pay about 11%.

Most expats in this country only pay 57,000 CRC (100 USD) per month. These costs cover both the income-receiving expat and direct dependents such as spouses and children. What are the pros and cons of Costa Rica's healthcare system?

Given the low cost and availability of fantastic treatments, you may be wondering if there are any downsides to Costa Rica's healthcare system.


  • Existing conditions are covered.

  • There is no age limit for signing up, and monthly payments often decrease with age.


  • Public health systems are often overwhelmed with patients. Foreigners should expect long waiting times.

  • As the public health system is overwhelmed, smaller hospitals and clinics may be understaffed, leading to longer wait for times and delays in treatment.

  • Finding an expert can be difficult, if not impossible. General practitioners treat most residents who use the public health system. English-speaking staff can be difficult to find unless you live in a big city.

  • You have no choice as to which doctor to see.

  • You can only receive generic or Costa Rican medicines.

Overview of Private Health Insurance

How does private health insurance in Costa Rica work?

The public system is of very high quality and both residents and non-residents have access to the same services, but both Ticos and expats have private health insurance. It is also common to choose coverage. This is because private care often has shorter waiting times and is relatively affordable.

About 30% of Costa Rica's population has private insurance. His three most popular private hospitals in the country are Clinica Cabrica in San Jose, Clinica Catolica in San Jose Guadalupe, and his CIMA hospital in Escazu. Private treatments can be paid in cash.

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