Sam - How To Expat
Sam - How To Expat

How Good Is The Healthcare In Colombia Really?

Healthcare In Colombia With Boots On The Ground Stories

Healthcare in Colombia is one of the best in Latin America and I would even say better than the US-System (This is my opinion, not a fact).
In the video, I cover how many of our clients find themselves in a financially difficult situation and look outside their borders for a solution. What we experienced with these clients is that they can reduce their medical expenses by up to 90%.

This “calculation” includes health care costs (co-payment, deductible, medicine) and the monthly health insurance bill, compared to paying out of pocket here in Colombia. Yes, that’s right I said: “Out Of Pocket”.
And if you get the inexpensive health insurance of Colombia you can lower that price to the said 90%.

In this article we will talk about:

  • Misconceptions about health care in Colombia
  • The cost of healthcare in Colombia
  • My personal story of my experience in a Colombian hospital (with video)
  • How you as a foreigner can be covered by the Colombian health insurance

Misconceptions About Healthcare In Colombia

Many foreigners of “first world countries” believe that outside their home country, healthcare is worse. On one hand, they are surely right, because the average healthcare experience is surely less pleasant than what the average healthcare experience would be, let’s say in the US or Germany.

But what is left out in this conclusion is that as an Expat, you (most probably) are able to afford the top-notch quality in contrast to the home country, you just get the average.
So comparing top-notch Colombian healthcare, to average US (or in my case Swiss) healthcare is how I see the situation.

After Pulling My Hamstring

The Cost Of Healthcare In Colombia

If you are from Western Europe or especially from North America, you are used to having extraordinary healthcare prices. So be prepared that you will be stunned by the prices in Colombia.

Some examples:

  • Fix broken bone in the leg, Ambulance, 3 days stay in Hospital USD 5000
  • Blood test (an astonishing) USD 7
  • Doctor house call USD 40-50

Details, Details…

What you have to know though, is which doctors are “Expat-Conform”.There are a lot of typical 3rd World hospitals too, so make sure that you know in advance where you have to go in case of an emergency. There are a lot of doctors who make house calls in Colombia too, for almost no additional cost.

What you also have to know, is that outside of the big cities like Medellin, Bogota or Cartagena, there are not a lot of “modern” hospitals around. So if you have a medical condition you are better off, living near or in a big city.

Plastic Surgery In Colombia

From boob-job to nose-job Colombia is famous for high-quality inexpensive plastic surgery. That’s why I don’t want to leave it out here in this article. Prices are similarly inexpensive. Examples can be:

  • Boobjob from USD 3000
  • Nosejob USD 4500

Here you’ll find more plastic surgery prices.

My Experience with Healthcare In Colombia

There are people praising the Colombian healthcare system, there are other people that tell horrible stories. I found it out myself as I got injured here in Medellin, Colombia. I tore my hamstring and got to the Pablo Tobon Uribe hospital with an ambulance. The ambulance took forever to come (45min) and at the end gouged me with a cost of approx. USD 80 (yes I know still way less than in the US ).

I had to wait in the hospital for quite a long time until I really got to attend. I was especially worried as the first nurse that spoke to me, and my Colombian friend who was with me said that the hospital is full.

In the end, I left the hospital 7 hours later with an X-Ray done, a consultation of a specialist and an incredible bill of around USD 180 for the whole procedure. And this is the best Hospital in Medellin and one of the best in Latin America. So the experience was a little underwhelming but the prices were crazy inexpensive.

Other Examples Of Healthcare Cost In Colombia

Other examples of things we personally had done.

  • We had a blood test done for the Colombian Cedula (ID Card) for USD 7 per person.
  • Dental cleaning at the best dental clinic in Colombia was USD 33.

So you can see prices in Colombia are extremely inexpensive even if you don’t have insurance.

Health Insurance In Colombia

There Are 3 Forms Of Healthcare In Colombia.

  • SISBEN: Which is for homeless and financially very poor people. (Not for Expats)
  • EPS (Entidades Promotoras de Salud): This is the public health insurance.
  • Prepagada (Private Insurance): This is the private healthcare insurance in Colombia.

EPS Health Insurance In Colombia

Technically the monthly premium is calculated as 12.5 percent of the monthly gross income that is declared to the EPS.
Most Expats pay around USD 50-100 a month, for the public insurance EPS. This covers most of the cost but will require you to go to the doctors they (the insurance company) assign you to.

Amazingly not only you but also your spouse or/and kid are covered by the same insurance without additional cost. So if you are a couple it’s possible (and common) that you spend around USD 50/m per person on health insurance in Colombia.

It is common that you can be scheduled two months from where you made an appointment to see the doctor. So it’s not the best and most comfortable way to be covered.

There are additional packages you can add on top of the EPS which are not technically in the bracket of private insurance but are just on top of the normal EPS coverage like special dental treatments or types of massages that are not covered with the standard EPS.

Requirements For EPS Health Insurance

No matter what age or which medical history you have, as soon as you have a Cedula (Colombian ID Card) you can get the EPS Health Insurance. You get a Cedula as soon as you have residency. How to get residency in Colombia here.

Prepagada Health Insurance in Colombia

The Prepagada health insurance is the “Private Insurance” of Colombia. With Prepagada you get high-quality healthcare. Plans are very different and can vary in price.
Most plans start around USD180/m but can reach up to USD300/m and more. Usually, the Prepagada health insurance has a little co-payment most though are not more than USD10, so really neglectable.

Requirements For Prepagada Health Insurance

If you are older than 60-62 years old or have a pre-existing condition. It’s very hard or even impossible to get into the private network of the Prepagada system (keep in mind you still are able to get into the EPS).

SURA Health Insurance In Medellin, Colombia

Which Health Insurance Company Should You Choose

Easy question, easy answer, SURA. SURA is the most common health insurance company. SURA has a lot of treatment centers, it’s (more or less) organized, well known and a huge company, so probably too big to fail.

How We Handle Health Insurance In Colombia

We handle it like this; We have basic insurance and if we have a medical issue, we will pay the doctor in cash without using the insurance at all. Because medical treatment here in Colombia is so inexpensive, it’s the best choice for us.

Keeping The Spirit Up In The Hospital At 4AM

Conclusion – Healthcare In Colombia

Colombian healthcare is great and inexpensive. This article is just a little overview of Colombian healthcare.

Sam and Tacha
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