Hello International Living Experts,
I would just like some information on healthcare in Costa Rica in specific towns or areas. I am not sure where I am going to retire there yet but the level of healthcare available will be a factor for me.
I am in my mid 60’s and in reasonable health but would still feel more comfortable if I knew there was quality healthcare available in my place of retirement. Any information you could give me would be a big help.
Jason Holland – Roving Latin America Correspondent
Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, officially known as the Southern Zone, is a bit isolated. It’s a beautiful mountainous area covered by farmland and rain forest, with wild beaches. Many of the expats who settle here are retirees. They come for the natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle but also because medical care is available.
There are doctor’s offices and small clinics in and around the popular beach towns of Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal – driving from Dominical to Ojochal takes about 30 minutes.
But you also have large hospitals, with emergency rooms and specialists. One is in the town of Cortes, which is just off the coastal highway about 20 minutes south of Ojochal. And 45 minutes inland from Dominical is the capital of this region, San Isidro de El General. It has a large hospital, well regarded. Both of these are “public” hospitals in the government-run healthcare system known as Caja. Services are available to legal residents of the country. It’s easy for most retired expats to achieve residence through the pensionado program, which requires $1,000 per month per couple in income from Social Security or a pension.
In San Isidro you also have a small private hospital, as well as specialist doctors offices. You can access their services with insurance or by paying cash. The costs are a fraction of what you would pay in the U.S.
Greg Seymour – Costa Rica Correspondent
Grecia is a medium sized town of about 18,000 residents. The healthcare for the immediate area is set up to be able to handle the population and this means there are plenty of options.
There are many general practitioners in Grecia and several of them speak English fluently. There are also specialty doctors: gynecologists, chiropractors, dentists, dental surgeons, optometrists, etc. There is a medical lab downtown that can expedite blood work and other lab tests. And, there are also alternative medicine practitioners in the area for those seeking a different treatment path.
Grecia has a Caja clinic to assist those using nationalized healthcare and there is a hospital that can treat emergencies and illness that requires longer term care. Within 1 hour from Grecia is over 10 larger private hospitals and 2 Caja hospitals.
Finally, there are more than 5 pharmacies in Grecia and many ailments people would go to a clinic for in the U.S. can be treated at a pharmacy which typically has a doctor on staff.
We have been very pleased with the quality and cost of care we have received for the three years we have lived in Grecia.
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