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The healthcare system in Colombia

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Healthcare is a primary concern for anyone moving abroad and future expats will be happy to learn about the excellent care available in Colombia. In fact, the World Health Organization ranked Colombia’s healthcare system as number 22 in a review of 191 countries. Hospitals and clinics in Colombia’s major cities have many bilingual doctors. The majority of expats (especially those from the U.S.) will find the cost of healthcare very affordable.

Health Insurance

Colombia’s new constitution in 1993 made healthcare a basic right for all citizens and foreigners. There are three types of medical coverage available in Colombia, though only two are available to non-Colombians:

  • SISBEN: This is a free government subsidized healthcare system and is only for very poor or homeless Colombians.
  • Entidades Promotoras de Salud (EPS): EPS is the public healthcare system and is mandatory for all residents. The monthly premium is 12.5% of your monthly gross income.
  • Medicina Prepagada: Private health insurance available through different private companies.

 Good to know:

In Colombia’s urban centers, you will find modern facilities and high-quality medical care. Please note that this may not be the case if living or traveling in rural areas.

Public and Private Health Care

The public EPS system is available to foreigners holding a Colombian cedula (resident ID). Any temporary resident holding a visa (besides the tourist visa) is issued a resident ID and therefore able to register with EPS. This system works through contracts with health insurance companies like Coomeva and Sura, who then refer you to a network of participating health care providers. Because this is the public healthcare system, the wait for an appointment can be long and you will always need a referral to see a specialist.

Most expats primarily use the Medicina Prepagada system because of low cost and convenience. With the private Prepagada system, a passport is sufficient to secure coverage. Please note that because EPS is mandatory for everyone, some providers may ask for proof of enrollment in the public system. Insurance providers work with a list of hospitals and clinics much like the EPS system. However, appointment waits are generally a couple of days and there is no need to get a referral to see a specialized doctor. With many Prepagada providers, clients may also choose a doctor outside the network and be reimbursed for visits.

 Important:

If you are over 60 years of age or have certain pre-existing health conditions, you will be denied Medicina Prepagada insurance. Expats not eligible for Prepagada insurance may want to look into a global health insurance policy. You may also opt to pay out of pocket for treatment. Remember that no one can be denied care through the public EPS system.

 Useful Links:

Colombian Ministry of Health

Health Insurance Providers (all pages in Spanish):

Salud Sura
Seguros Bolivar
Seguros Falabella
Coomeva

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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