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Health in Costa Rica

Health in Costa Rica

In the 19th century, 1836 during the eradication of the cholera disease, Braulio Carrillo established the “health boards” to stop propagation and to cure diseases of Costa Rica’s population. In 1845 the hospital San Juan de Dios was the first one built in the country.


In 1915 the Rockefeller Institute (USA) provided aid to Costa Rica to create the School Health Department which was in charge of children’s health.


In 1921 the government (as an independent country) decided to create a Law to merge all the organizations related to health in Costa Rica and in 1923 it established the Law about Public Health Protection (stating that health is a country’s responsibility). In 1927 the first local health areas (clinics or “ebais”) were founded.


By 1941 public health was already a reality and the CCSS was based. Today, each person that has a formal job, is retired or has the voluntary insurance pays a fee of 10.5% of its monthly income to cover CCSS for public health and the retirement fund (with which they can cover their nuclear family as well).


In 2019 the International Living magazine categorized Costa Rica as the 6th country in the world with the best health assistance. This applies to popular medical tourism as well because the patients can travel to a beautiful country and get the treatments at a fraction of its costs in their countries.

Costa Rica, besides the public health insurance, has a private system that’s affordable and has various private insurances as well. Another advantage is that in the country it is very normal to be able to communicate in Spanish (native language) and English with the customer service representatives, including health professionals.


For the people who pay the public health insurance, the CCSS will pay 50% of the sick days you take (after the 3 first days in a month period which are paid by the employer if the person is on payroll). It also provides tests and medication with no additional costs. The medications and tests can also be acquired by private medicine and drug stores.


Costa Rica ranked as the world’s best medical attention with Panama in a Global Annual Retirement in 2020.


In private and public health areas, in Costa Rica there’s continuous education, equipment upgrades, seminars, new clinics and it is still affordable. Also, medication is cheaper in Costa Rica and Panama than in North America.


Only 5 countries in America invest 6% of the GDP  yearly in public health which are Cuba, United States, Canada, Costa Rica and Uruguay. Costa Rica, Uruguay, Panama and Cuba have the best statistics in health indicators in Latin America according to The Lancet.


Overall, even if the system has its flaws and improvement areas, Costa Rica provides clean water, medication, longevity, low infant and childbirth mortality rates in health with hospitals, clinics and ebais to whomever that needs medical attention. The country thrives in salubrity with lower costs.


Karen Ebanks

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