Future retirees will be pleased to know that Costa Rica is among the five best countries with affordable health care

A recent article published by International Living praised the quality of medical care in Costa Rica. This comes as no surprise to me since I have experienced Costa Rica’s health care first-hand during the 37 years I have lived in the country. Expat retirees who live here will echo my sentiments.

The country has a longevity rate that is equal or better than many so-called first-world countries. In fact, any Costa Rica who lives to be 80 years old, on an average lives longer than any other people in the world from that point on. The country even has a whole community of centenarians living in a “blue zone” located on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Furthermore, the Costa Rica is a mecca for inexpensive medical tourism including dental implants, joint replacement and cosmetic surgery.

All of the above attest to inexpensive health care that this country has to offer. There are basically two medical systems here: a government-run one and the private medical system with some people using both. The public system covers everything including pre-existing conditions. However, expats can expect a long wait for certain types of surgeries and procedures. On the other hand, the private system offers immediate attention and the opportunity to choose one’s doctor. Pre-existing conditions are not covered under this plan and rates are based on an expat’s age.

The above brings us to the article mentioned above: As health care costs continue to rise, retirees increasingly are looking abroad for less costly coverage.

Five countries were mentioned in the report with Costa Rica ranked as the second most inexpensive place in the world for health care, only topped by Malaysia. The latter’s most popular areas of treatment include cosmetic surgery, dental work and dermatology.

Colombia was ranked as the third most affordable country. The World Health Organization considers Colombia number 22 in the world, which is higher than both Canada (ranked 30th) and the U.S. (ranked 37th). Those under age 60 with a national ID card (cédula) and even those with pre-existing conditions, can apply for government health insurance. Many retired expat couples pay premiums of around $70 to $85 monthly.

Colombia is followed by Mexico. Expat retirees can expect to pay half or less for medical expenses and prescription drugs there.

Panama finished in fifth place. The country offers a few health care options for retirees.

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