Costa Rica provides universal health care to citizens and permanent residents with the best of care in Latin America. The World Health Organization consistently place Costa Rica in the top country rankings.

All citizens and legal residents of Costa Rica are eligible for Costa Rica's public health insurance, Caja Costarricense de Sejuro Social (CCSS). The cost to affiliate with CCSS is about 13 percent of a person's income. For those under the age of 55, this payment also includes a mandatory pension payment which is disbursed starting at age 65. The low cost combined with high quality care at its hospitals and clinics sometimes make for long waits at offices and hospitals.

There are ten major public hospitals (29 total) located throughout the country including four in San Jose. For regular medical care there are clinics (250 countrywide), known as EBAIS, in almost every community in Costa Rica. Many medicines that require a prescription in the United States do not require a prescription in Costa Rica. If a Costa Rican needs birth control pills, blood pressure medicine, etc., the medicine is available from the pharmacist without a prescription. A pharmacist is referred to as doctor or doctora and they can diagnose and treat many common illnesses or problems. So usually, the first stop for a person is the pharmacy. If the pharmacist feels the problem is serious, he or she will direct the person to the nearest hospital.

Beginning in 2009, international insurance providers offer health insurance in Costa Rica. Costa Rica also has private hospitals and clinics that offer high quality medical care at a fraction of the cost in the United States. This has made Costa Rica a very attractive alternative for people that need medical procedures, and has given birth to medical tourism. Many people are attracted to the idea of travelling to a beautiful tropical site, with a great medical reputation combined with low cost.

Private insurance is available through INS, the government owned insurance monopoly. Prescription drugs, most medical exams, medical visits, and hospitalization are covered at 70 percent, with surgical and aesthetician costs fully covered. Pre-existing conditions and annual check ups are not included; but most plans cover dental work, optometry, and cosmetic surgery needed as a result of an accident.

Costa Ricans can be very proud of their health care system, and the following facts are proof of the quality of their health care system:
- Life expectancy for men is 76 years, for women 79.8 years (both higher than in the U.S.)
- Infant mortality rates less than in the United States

United Nations ranks Costa Rica's public health system in the top 20 worldwide and the best in Latin America

Costa Rica Safe Travel: Safety and health go hand in hand. Therefore, we have compiled a list of tips and suggestions for your consideration. Click on the "Costa Rica Safe Travel" link to review our recommendations.

The following are important statistics and indicators of the Costa Rica health care system (statistics estimated 2008 unless indicated differently):


Age Statistics:
0-14: 27.2percent
15 - 64: 66.8percent
65+: 6percent

Growth rate of population:

Birth rate:
17.71 per 1,000 population

Death Rate:
4.31 per 1,000 population

Infant mortality rate:
9.01 deaths per 1,000 live births

Life expectancy:
77.4 years

HIV / AIDS rate:
0.6percent (est. 2003)

Major infectious diseases:
Intermediate risk

Waterborne or food diseases:
bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

Vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Recommended vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travelers
  • Hepatitis B: Recommended for all travelers
  • Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers
  • Tetanus: Recommended for all travelers
  • Yellow fever: Required for travelers arriving from yellow fever infected countries
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella: Recommended for all travelers born after 1956

(Most recommended vaccinations are required in industrial countries.)

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