Healthcare in Colombia


how does the healthcare system work in Colombia ? Is it efficient ?

What are the main differences between public and private sectors?

Is it recommended to purchase private health insurance in Colombia?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience !


I wanted to respond but another expat group has already provided complete information.

The health care systems in the large cities is very efficient.  They have state of the art hospitals and medical equipment.

The main differences between public and private sectors are that you will receive friendlier medical providers, better food at the hospital, less approval wait time, less aggravation especially if you are not native speaker of Spanish. just get one.

I have had to visit an ER twice while in Colombia, once in Bucaramanga, once in Bogota, both were private.  In each, I had excellent treatment, lab work done and reported within what seemed like minutes, and yes they were both very busy, had kind, solicitous and well trained staff, and what I considered very good doctors.  First price, about $75 US, and second time $150 US. 

I have acquaintences who are doctors, excellently trained in Colombia and then Europe, and occasionally classes in the US.

I have been involved with family visits to excellent hospitals in Bucaramanga and have been amazingly and excellently impressed.

According to reports by the UN and other viable sources, consistantly the US ranks 37th in health care, Colombia ranks 7th, and France 1st. 

Do not worry about good care in Colombia, at least in the cities.  I worry about health care in the US in many ways, although there is also excellent service in the US in many, many place, not all.  Nor would it be good in every instance in Colombia.

Colombia has the bases well covered.  If I have to be sick, I'd prefer to be in Colombia.

I have heard there is health insurance policies you can obtain.  how costly are they and who do you contact for that information.  is it a good idea to have one.  I'm 66 years old in good health, but who knows when something serious happens.

So, it's true then, that you either have to be employed here or have a business in order to be considered for medical coverage? WE have been told this by 6 or 7 insurance co.s Also, we are too old - 69 and 64. So, if we can't get medical insurance as expat retirees here, won't this put a big damper in the MINUS column for considering Colombia for retirement? Are people aware of this? We are also told that all the hospitals, big and small, no matter the rating, the location, or the quality, charge the same fee for hospitals and services? We also won't be able to get the emergency ambulance service either?? So now the big question is, how much does everything cost around here??? We need to know now if we can afford to get sick here. Back in Panama, we were accepted for med. ins. regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.  Hope someone can clear all this up.


In order to help expats and soon-to-be expats, we would like to invite you to share your experience on this topic, with updated info on the healthcare system.

Thank you in advance,

Julie Team

We've been in Medellin almost four (4) years and haven't had a problem getting insurance or medical treatment at all.  We were able to join the national healthcare system (EPS) as independents. They used our social security statements as proof of income to set the rate for our coverage. There is no limit on age or pre-existing conditions. I'm diabetic and my spouse has parkinson and asthma. You must find an agent that will help you get EPS. They normally don't get paid a commission so you need a friend that's an agent or knows an agent that will help you.

Where should I start, first my experience in the states....I was paying close to two thousand dollars  per month for my drugs before making the decision to move to Colombia. Being a
legal resident helped a great deal. I opted for Salud Total a public insurance company. They are excellent except for the fact you have to go to their main center in Poblado (Medellin) to get authorization for your drugs. Also they have their own pharmacies that you have to utilize.
That is the only inconvience and the cost of my drugs are free with my insurance which is paid monthly approximately $ 75.00 dollars for two persons. Unlike Obamacare which is so costly  and expensive, I am veryhappy with Colombia health system.
There are also private and prepaid insurance which offer a great alternative depeding on your circumstances.

I have Colsanitas and the required EPS. I love it. I have traveled around Colombia with it and had no problem using my insurance as well as here in Bogota. I have been to the ER a few times and a stint in the hospital in Santa Marta and have paid only the required copayment and nothing else, no more then $200-300 USD. The docotrs are good, many have trained abroad. The hospitals are not as security protected as those in the US nor new or with new furniture but they are clean.

OK,  my 2 cents.   I have EPS Sanitas and I can't say enough good things about them.  I called my Doctor in Florida and he told me to see a doctor right away wherever I was at.  I had surgery in Bucaramanga 3 weeks later.  Total out of pocket cost for everything including hospital, operating room, medical staff, and all the drugs a big 2,500 pesos.  Yes, less than 2 dollars.  Also,  they found a doctor and complete operating room staff that spoke English just so I would not get any translation messed up and to make me feel more comfortable.   I pay 75,000 pesos per month for the Insurance.    One more thing,  the dental plan that's included is just as awesome..

The down side -  It's like my daughters Ins in Canada.  You are either better or dead before you get an appointment in Colombia.  For the little things,  walk into a clinic and be seen right away..

Tracy here,just wanted to say in January I was very sick with an infection,so I went to the hospital here in Giraradota,they were very efficient,the doctor seen me very fast ,soon I was given a shot for the infection,the cost was around  $20. out of pocket no hassles,good service, efficient,cheap.

About 5 months ago, I was pottering around in the garden of our restaurant El Toque Ingles near Subachoque, at around six pm, when I felt I was having a bout of indigestion. After a few moments it moved up towards  my heart, which I then assumed it was heartburn and was about to go inside to get an antacid drink, I must add here that every checkup I had in both England and Colombia, my heart had proved to be fine, so I assumed it was nothing serious.
After a few paces towards the door, the pain became intense right across my chest and I knew that the unthinkable was happening and that I was indeed having a heart attack. What was really great, was the fact that though there was a real possibility of dying, as a christian I was not in the least bit frightened as I knew that if this was my time, I would go be with Jesus in heaven. I thought of my wife and daughter being left alone and prayed that this would not be the time! I told Kelly, my wife what I was sure was happening and tried to lie down for a while to see if it would ease off, but the pain only got worse, so we called a taxi to take us to the medical centre in Subachoque.
When we arrived there they checked my heart to find it was indeed what I thought and administered some medication. The doctor in charge there sent me by ambulance to the large hospital in Facatativa. I was admitted to the intensive care unit and was given morphine for the pain and I believe atropine for my heart. This combination certainly helped with the pain. I was here for the next two days and received very good care here from both doctors and nurses who were a really happy bunch. On the day I was due to leave, I thanked the doctor for his care and by way of reply, he smilingly pinched my toe. I must say that my only gripe about this hospital was that the food was like the typical hospital food that one hears about, but this was the first time I had experienced it personally.
It was decided that I should then be taken to Bogota to the Heart Foundation Clinic and when we arrived, I was then placed in the intensive care ward there. I was then prescribed the following ‘cocktail’ of tablets, - Ranatidina, Carvedilol, Clopidogrel, Asprin and Atorvastatina, several of which had to be taken two or three times a day.
The only side effect to all these medicines was a total blockage in bowel movements, which was unfortunate and as the food here was really good, so I was eating all that came my way. After 5 days however, I was feeling really uncomfortable. I asked for a laxative to help and was given a tablet. I don’t know what it was but it was very effective, too effective, as the results were somewhat uncontrollable!! At this time I also developed a urine infection, which meant that between the two I was up to the loo every half hour. An antibiotic was given which soon alleviated the urine infection and bowel movements soon returned to normal.
I was then told that I was going into surgery to help with my circulation and about an hour later was wheeled down to the operating room. I was amazed at the fantastic ‘state of the art’ equipment that was down here, which was keeping me quite occupied, when a side door opened and the surgeon came through. I had been told that he was probably the best in his field in Colombia and his manner was totally professional as he explained that he was going to put a stent up through the carotid artery to where it joined my heart. He then called for music (classical) sat down at a console attached to three large monitors and commenced with the operation. I must admit that with the classical music in the background, the thought crossed my mind that he looked somewhat like Beethoven composing a symphony. Then an incision was made in the carotid artery in my groin into which a catheter was inserted. I was awake all the time, as this was done under a local anaesthetic. I could not feel a thing except the initial cut into the groin which was not much really, but after about half an hour of cleaning up a blood clot which had blocked the artery, I was beginning to feel quite sore in my chest. The surgeon informed me that this was normal, as was a swelling and bruising in my groin and that the pain would disappear within an hour. Also that the bruising and lump would be gone within a week or so, both of which proved to be spot on. I was very impressed with this man’s total professionalism and from my experience am sure he is one of, if not the best in his field in Colombia!
I am writing this a couple of weeks after coming out of the clinic and have returned to looking after the garden and playing and singing in the restaurant during weekends and apart from getting tired a little earlier than usual, plus a slightly diminished energy level, feel as good as new and can thank God for a really rapid recovery.
I must also thank Saludcoop at this point as a good medical insurance company although some people have said otherwise.  I have found that they have paid for all this recently, plus a colonoscopy, MRI scan, massage course and several other specialist visits that have been necessary over the past three years. They have never complained, or tried to avoid paying these costs. My only niggle was a couple of administrative errors with appointments, but they have certainly looked after me so far!

Peter,   So glad to hear about your recovery and wonderful experience..

Hello im Ana i living in Pereira

Mariposa2014 :

Hello im Ana i living in Pereira


The topic of this thread is healthcare in Colombia.

If you have some information or advice regarding healthcare please post it here,

My wife and I have been looking at Colombia and the Dominican Republic as two possible areas to move when I retire in the next year. After doing some research it looks like the DR does not have any health insurance available for people 65 or older, so that pretty much rules out that country.  From this blog it sounds like health insurance is available in Colombia for those 65 and over. I will be 69 and my wife will be 64 - both in good health - does anyone have an idea of what insurance costs would be in Colombia? … alth-plan/
this is maybe one assurance  can help you doublesharp

Medical care is excellent in Colombia.  My father moved to Colombia 7 years a go.  He was 65 then.  he purchased insurance with SuSalud.  He retired in the USA and upon arrival visited one of the offices of SuSalud in Medellin.  There he purchased insurance and he was told to take a complete physical and where to take it.  His insurance would be in effect 3 months later.  In the mean time we waited for all of the results and for him to qualify.  We were not afraid of him being uninsured during the wait because the private medical appointments are very affordable.  We paid 75.00 dollars a month for his insurance and are paying almost the same now.  I am retiring in Colombia also and in the mean time I visit often.  I have decided to transfer all my medical care to Colombia since I found out 2 years a go that I needed some dental implants.  The implant surgeon in USA gave me an estimate of 40 thousand dollars and the dentist 20 thousand to finish by placing the crowns.  I visited Colombia and paid 25 dollars for a one year coverage at a dental office.  There they examined me and told me I needed gum surgery.  and endodontic for which I had been paying for in USA 2 thousand every year with deductibles and my 20% share and never felt like anything was being done but I was trying very hard to keep my teeth. Something deep inside was telling me that the doctors in the USA were not doing their work.

In Colombia after paying my 25 dollars membership to this dental practice I got my basic exam, was referred to the endodontist on the same day.  she told me I needed surgery for infections on two poorly done root canals (done in USA) and the two root canals needed to be re done.  She schedule me for the following day. In the mean time the periodontics saw me and immediately spoke with the endodontist.  They made a plan with my dentist and I had my surgery.  Three days after the surgery my teeth felt firm again.  Two of the teeth that I was told needed to be replaced by implants were saved and the teeth around the injures teeth became solid again. This surgeries cost me 265 dollars.
The periodontist gave me what I feel was the very first deep tissue cleaning ever.  I had been paying every year for gum treatments and they barely touched me in USA.  Here I got a complete cleaning and I could tell immediately my gums were feeling better and infection was removed.  a week later my gums were pink healthy and not bleeding any more. I paid 65 dollars for that treatment.  Then I had bone implants  and partials for the healing process all at less than a 4th of the cost of what the USA doctors wanted. In the mean time, I returned to the US and visited a regular MD to see what I could do about my lack of sleep.  She recommended I take a sleep apnea test.  I already knew I had apnea (stop breathing for short periods at night) She told me I needed to get  CPAP machine but the insurance would not give it to me unless I paid 4thousand for a sleep study and other test.  The doctor told me that I really needed a surgery on my throat but that the insurance would not pay for it (30 thousand).  So I decided that in 4 months I would have to return to Colombia to get my implants done and the 4thousand for the study would be put to better use in Colombia.  I did go back there I found a ENT.  She found that I needed the surgery and what would have been 30 thousand in US turned into 2 thousand in Colombia.  No sleep study, no CPAP machine just a short surgery with a difficult recovery (not the doctors fault) it is a painful recovery but worth it.  I am now fine from my APNEA and DO NOT SNORE ANY MORE.  Have my implants and can take many visits to see my father with the money I saved from the dental surgeons, sleep study techs and ENT surgeries. Not to mention the dental surgeons.

1 in every 3 implants usually fail.  I learned that from doing research in the USA.  Well one of the implants I got failed.  I rushed to the doctor in USA because I thought maybe I had wasted my money in Colombia.  The new surgeon here not knowing where the work was done admired my implants, told me that the implants I had were the exact same brand he uses here in USA and confirmed that the implants were done correctly but that I was rejecting one of them and gave me an estimate to replace the failed implant.  He said that to remove the failed implant I needed to pay 89 for the evaluation,390 for a panoramic x-ray , 2500.00 for the surgery to remove the implant, 790 for the removal and 2500.00 for bone implant. Then he gave the estimate for the implant itself 5 thousand dollars and the estimate for the crown 7 thousand.  I called my doctor in Colombia and he laughed.  he told me to return to him.  I did.  He removed the implant in 1 second (really) cleaned the area for new bone,  placed bone implant and closed the area for FREE because he felt he needs to guarantee his work and he is proud of his work and loves his patients.  Then the general dentist gave a partial to cover the space while I wait for the bone to take and I will be returning to Colombia to get my implant in 4 months, also at no extra charge.  All I had to pay was the airline ticket and I will gladly pay for my return ticket and take the time to check on my dad.

What do I think about the Colombian medical system? It is great.  My father continues to pay his insurance received the care he needs and is happy.  I do not have insurance there yet but had my surgery with a great doctor who is now my friend.  Had my implants and was treated fairly.  I love the doctors, the training of the doctors, the bed side manner and I am ready to bring people to Colombia with me to get their implants and all they need.  Contact me if you need help. Campesinasoyyo[at]

Hi, I liked very much the story of the dental issues in the USA and Colombia. Since I am moving to Armenia Colombia soon. I'd like to know the insurance company that you had. it seems like the company i'd like to have as well , I'm 65 now. Any others please let me know as much as possible. Thanks

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