Healthcare in Costa Rica for Expats

Costa Rica boasts the best retirement country for its coastal views, wildlife, lush green forests, and tranquility. However, the nation also is an attraction for its most budgetary and best healthcare services.

Healthcare services in Costa Rica are made easier at reasonable costs with high-quality services. The healthcare system does not only cater to the residents of Costa Rica but also the same structure is being implemented to every expat. There’s no wonder that Costa Rica ranked number one in Latin America when it comes to the standard healthcare system.

There’s no need to worry about the quality of the healthcare system in Costa Rica as all the doctors and medical staff are given ample training to carry out their services. Furthermore, most of the doctors and specialists are well-trained from the institutions and hospitals of the US and European countries.

Healthcare Systems in Costa Rica for Expats

Costa Rica has two healthcare systems in which both locals and expats can access and enjoy. One is a government-run universal system, and the other one is a private healthcare system.

Though it’s been ranked as the top healthcare system in Central America and having state-of-the-art equipment, the costs of healthcare are economical that even expats can use a combination of the two systems.

I. Government-run Universal Healthcare System

Also known as Caja Costarrincense de Seguro Social (CCSS), it has been serving the Costa Ricans locals and expats for the past 60 years. Expats who are legally residing in Costa Rica can apply for a Caja healthcare insurance, pay a minimal monthly fee depending on your income (usually between 7% and 11% of your income), and enjoy the free treatment like check-ups, drug prescriptions, and major surgeries.

However, for tourists or visitors, the Caja services are only available for emergencies. Expect longer waiting hours for non-emergency treatments, but we reassure you that you will be given an excellent quality service.

Some patients and tourists opt to club their vacation and treatments whenever they are in Costa Rica because of the quality and low-cost of every treatment.

Main and Well-known Public Healthcare Hospitals for Expats

Public hospitals go as far as the rural areas in Costa Rica, unlike private hospitals, which are located in the main cities. Expats and locals alike can now have the option of getting an equally exceptional and economical healthcare service whichever province you stay in Costa Rica.

1. Alajuela Province Hospitals

You can now get your medical and healthcare services to one of the three hospitals in Alajuela through San Rafael Hospital, Hospital San Carlos, and Hospital Carlos Luis Valverde Vega.

2. Cartago Province Hospitals

You have the option to choose from the best hospitals in the province like Hospital Max Peralta Jimenez and William Allen Taylor Hospital.

3. Guanacaste Province Hospitals

The services and infrastructures to provide you with a wide range of medical services can now be accessed at Dr. Enrique Baltodano Briceno Hospital and Hospital La Anexion de Nicoya.

4. Heredia Province Hospitals

San Vicente de Paul Hospital in Heredia Province is now a Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospital, which means it provides a high standard healthcare service.

5. Limon Hospitals

If you are visiting Limon Province, two best hospitals are great to visit for your medical and healthcare needs. These are Hospital Tony Facio Castro and Hospital Guapiles.

6. Puntarenas Hospitals

You will never get lost to your healthcare needs when you are in Puntarenas Province. Three major hospitals are ready to serve you mainly Hospital de Ciudad Neily, Golfito Hospital Manuel Mora Valverde, and Hospital Monsenor Victor Manuel Sanabria Martinez.

II. Private Healthcare System

The private healthcare system allows you to pay cash or health insurance with policies from international countries like the US, Europe, and even from Costa Rican companies.

Whether you pay cash or use your insurance, you will be paying a minimal amount compared to those in the US or other European countries.

A doctor’s visit will cost you approximately $60 to $80; a specialist’s fee will cost you roughly $80 to $100. Ultrasound tests, on the other hand, costs you around $75.

Diagnosis or any recurring treatment costs will vary, but still, it will always be lesser than that of Europe’s or the US. Even dental specializations like implants, braces, and teeth whitening are offered at a low cost. A few operations like knee or hip replacements or cosmetic surgeries are one of the most in-demand treatments in Costa Rica for both locals and expats alike.

Main and Well-known Private Healthcare Hospitals for Expats

There are three primary private hospitals in Costa Rica in which some of the doctors in CCSS have their personal clinics or hospitals run in the afternoon throughout the evening. Although these three private hospitals are JCI certified (Joint Commission International) and US affiliated hospitals, their fee costs are still reasonable comparing to the US and other European fees.

1. CIMA Hospital

The hospital is located in Escazu. Most doctors are English speakers; hence, there will be an easy communication to all your needs and requirements. CIMA Hospital caters to a wide range of medical services as well as simple to complicated surgical services.

2. Clinica Biblica

Located in downtown San Jose, Clinica Biblica was established in 1929, which is an affiliate of Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington. The hospital caters to broad surgical facilities like joints replacements, orthopedic, dental, and a few major surgeries.

3. Hospital La Catolica

Situated in Guadalupe, San Jose, Hospital La Catolica was organized by a group of Franciscan sisters during 1963. Today, the hospital innovates over the years and is now leading more than 800 dedicated staff providing the utmost medical and healthcare services.

Popular Surgeries and Procedures in Costa Rica for Expats

Expats can enjoy healthcare services in both public and private hospitals with the following lists of specialties:

  • Addiction Therapy
  • Anesthesiology
  • Audiology
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Endodontic Therapy
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Dentistry
  • General Surgery
  • Geriatrics
  • Gynecology and Obstetrics
  • Hematology
  • Hyperbaric Medicine
  • Infectious Disease
  • Internal Medicine
  • Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Nephrology
  • Neumology
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity Control
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthodontia
  • Orthopedics and Trauma
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pediatrics
  • Periodontology
  • Peripheral Vascular
  • Physical Therapy
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Proctology
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Urology

Health Insurance for Expats in Costa Rica

For expats who are not yet permanent residents of Costa Rica, it is recommended to obtain private insurance to decrease your medicals costs should you need any treatments or hospitalization services. In case you do not have private insurance, don’t worry as you can still visit a doctor at private hospitals with a relatively low cost.

On the other hand, if you already receive your permanent residency, it is a prerequisite to obtain private insurance to register with the public Caja. Besides, your private medical insurance will give you easy access to English-speaking personnel at private hospitals.

How to Get Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Expats who want to obtain health insurance can register online. You just need to provide a valid ID, financial details, and medical records. In case you are already working in Costa Rica, your employer will automatically provide you with health insurance coverage along with your contract.

If you are not able to register online because of residency status, you can still register for INS or Instituto de Seguro Nacional. Alternatively, you can also use international private health insurance plans like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allianz, and Cigna.

You can obtain your health insurance ranging from USD60 – USD250 per month dependent on age, gender, medical conditions, and coverage needs.


Both the private and government healthcare systems of Costa Rica attract many expats and retirees due to the latest state-of-the-art technologies and well-trained doctors in all their hospitals. Whether expats or retirees plan to move to Costa Rica’s big cities, rural, or remote areas, the government reassures you that high-quality and cost-effective healthcare services are provided throughout the country.

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