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Whether you are visiting Peru for a short time or planning to relocate for an extended period, it’s important to understand the healthcare system. Good quality health services are easily available in the country, even to expatriates.

But before moving there, make sure to do your research so you know the conditions and requirements for accessing healthcare. You may have to subscribe to a health insurance plan before travelling to ensure you are covered in all eventualities.

Health system

The Peruvian health system is divided into two sectors: the public and the private sectors. Hospitals, polyclinics and healthcare centres operate under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Social Security. The private sector includes hospitals and clinics run by many health care providers, including medical cabinets, clinics, pharmacies, and laboratories. Fees apply to consultations in both public and private hospitals.

Emergency

Indeed, you are advised to request for emergency health care services only in cases of danger (heart attack, haemorrhage, etc). If you need emergency care and are unable to get to a hospital, you’re advised to call the fire service in the first instance. There are also several private ambulance services, many of which are affiliated with private hospitals.

Quality of healthcare

Peru provides quality health care services like many Latin American countries. The best quality health care is provided in major cities, and there are limited facilities in remote areas, with lack of access being a major obstacle to receiving proper care. Healthcare is also cost prohibitive for Peruvians with low wages, as health services provided both by public and private healthcare centres can be quite expensive. This is why subscribing to a health insurance plan, besides social security, is compulsory for all workers in Peru.

Local drugstores are also widespread, providing most types of medication available on the international market. With little regulation, it is often easy to get medication without a prescription, although you are always advised to consult your doctor first. You may need to research the generic, non-branded name for the medicine you’re looking for.

Social insurance

Individuals can choose from two types of social insurances: Seguro Integral de Salud (SIS), which is mandated through the Ministry of Health and is aimed at protecting lower-income communities without health insurance, and EsSalud, which is a type of health insurance funded by employers who pay contributions of 9% of the employees salary.

EsSalud is compulsory for workers, both in the public and private sectors, for retirees and their minor descendants (less than 18 years old), independent workers and students. EsSalud provides coverage in case of dental care, maternity, general and specialized health care, hospitalization fees, laboratory analysis, medication, rehabilitation, prevention and vaccination, etc.

In case EsSalud members (independent workers, students, agricultural workers or taxi drivers) are contributing to the SIS, i.e., the voluntary insurance, the coverage ceiling will depend on the premium to which you have subscribed.

Health insurance

In Peru, employers are required to take care of all formalities relative to their employees' contributions, including social contributions. Therefore, all new employees have to be registered with the social insurance.

Many expats who come to Peru on an expat contract with an international company will be offered international health insurance. You may need to check which hospitals and clinics accept your insurance, and if they are not affiliated you may need to pay upfront for treatment and then submit a claim for reimbursement.

If you do not have international insurance and are not employed by a Peruvian company, you can choose to pay for your own private insurance plan, whether an international plan from your home country or a Peruvian plan to ensure that you are covered.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Health
EsSalud – Health insurance
SIS – Voluntary insurance

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