Healthcare costs and options for expats in Ecuador

healthcare-costIf you’re living in Ecuador or are planning to retire there in the near future, you’ll find pleasant information about Healthcare options for expats in Ecuador are very attractive. Whether you decide to opt into the low cost government health insurance, a private health insurance policy, or go insurance free there is an option for almost everyone wishing to make Ecuador their next home.

Most expats living in Ecuador tend to opt out of purchasing health insurance all together. Not that we are suggesting one should or shouldn’t do the same, but it is simply a fact of what most expats decide to do in regards to their Healthcare while living in Ecuador. One of the main reasons is the low cost of services and medicines. Expats living in Ecuador who don’t have health insurance tend to pay for procedures, visits, and medicines out-of-pocket without having to break the bank.

Here’s a cost comparison for a few medical procedures in Ecuador vs the U.S

  • A heart bypass: $130,000 in the U.S. vs. $10,000
  • A heart valve replacement: $160,000 vs. $15,000.
  • Repair of a cerebral aneurysm: $200,000 vs. $10,000.
  • Insertion of a heart pacemaker: $150,000 vs. $10,000.
  • Hip or knee replacement: $43,000 to $51,000 vs. $8,000
  • X Rays: $250 per film vs. $45.

*All these comparisons according to Ecuador’s Investment Coporation (INVECE).

There is also a government mandate that no one in Ecuador can be refused medical care. (Regardless of residence, age, or income) Which means that if it is absolutely not in your budget to purchase health insurance in Ecuador, you can still receive free medical care in case of an emergency. Keep in mind in some cases, the system reserves services and supplies for high risk patients.

What if you would rather not risk it and prefer to buy insurance?

In recent years, Healthcare and health insurance options for Ecuador expats has changed quite a bit.  As of 2014 the Ecuadorian government allowed legal to join the country’s Social Security (IESS) health care program for a low monthly premium of about $65.00 plus an additional approx $13.00 for a dependent or a spouse. Compare that to a similar premium in the U.S. that could cost roughly $450-$550.00 a month and above. One of the greatest breakthroughs of this allotment, is that the Ecuadorian government now allows any resident to opt into the program, regardless of any pre-existing conditions or age. The plan covers 100% of services, including medicines, with no out-of-pocket expenses. This is a government funded program, and naturally, all the paperwork is in Spanish. That’s hardly a deal breaker, in my mind, for affordable insurance. You can find affordable translators through online sites such as UpWork or Freelancer.

Some of the comments I have read from expats who have taken advantage of this low cost program, is that there tends to be long wait times for specialists, and there may be a lack of readily available medications at social security pharmacies.

An important thing to note here is that in addition to low cost of premiums, or out-of-pocket expenses, the quality of service in Ecuador is some of the finest in South America. With most of the doctors having studied in the U.S and Europe. In fact,  a 2014 Bloomberg survey of overall health care efficiency, which considered cost and quality all over the world, listed Ecuador 20th in the world. The U.S., on the other hand, ranked 46th.

What if you don’t mind paying a higher premium for better care. 

Now, you could always opt into purchasing private health insurance for coverage in Ecuador if you don’t mind paying a higher premium in exchange for access to private hospitals and doctors.  The main Ecuadorian insurance companies are BMI, Salud Sa and Generali. With premiums costing roughly $120-$140/ month for a male in his 60s, and roughly $110-$130 for a female of the same age.

In Ecuador you can enjoy the low cost of health care, state of the art medical facilities, a personable relationship with your healthcare provider, and quality medical care that won’t leave you bankrupt.

If you’re interested in learning more about relocating to Ecuador, and would like to know about our tours click here.

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