Health Insurance in South America for Internationals Living Abroad
South America is a beloved destination for expatriates and international citizens living abroad, captivating global nomads, extreme sports enthusiasts, and luxury lovers alike. The continent is an ideal destination for seniors retiring abroad due to the low cost of living. But whether your stay is short or long, having health insurance in South America is essential.
South America’s Healthcare Challenges
Universal public healthcare exists in many South American countries. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago all have some form of universal healthcare. However, in all South American countries, there is a considerable gap in service between urban and rural areas. Buenos Aries’s Hospital Italiano, Las Condes’ Clinica Las Condes, and Sao Paulo’s Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein are regional centers for excellent care and services. However, in small villages and isolated cities, services are more rudimentary. Approximately 30% of the population does not have access to healthcare due to economic circumstances and 21% are impeded by geography. And several countries in South America have particular health concerns or important information to note while organizing your travel health insurance.
Recommended Health Insurance Plans for Living in South America
For individuals and families moving to South America, there are a range of health insurance plans to cover you worldwide, including in your country of residence and your home country. If you are looking for global medical insurance while living in South America, we recommend the following plans.
For all applicants, the Cigna Global Medical Plan is a great option, offering flexible plan design and a high level of customer service.
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
For US citizens living abroad, another great option is the GeoBlue Xplorer plan. You will have a high-quality health insurance plan along with up to 9 months of coverage in the USA.
- Customize your medical coverage to suit your needs
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- Choose providers either in or out of our elite network
Health Insurance in Brazil
Patients who want to have private global medical insurance coverage can choose from local plans available in Brazil or international plans which they purchase before their trip. Local private health insurance plans in Brazil are more expensive than you might think – up to 30% more expensive than what’s sold in other Latin American countries. There is also no guarantee that the private facilities provided will be up to the standards that expats expect. Privacy and language services may be limited.
Health Insurance in Ecuador
If you’re traveling to Ecuador, health insurance isn’t just a prudent suggestion. It’s mandatory! But it’s not because there are any particular health concerns or problems in Ecuador. Rather, the country has a mandatory rule that all residents and all tourists must be insured. This policy has been in place since May 2018, and thus might not be mentioned in older guidebooks. Print out a copy of your insurance policy and certificate of coverage before you depart. Have it on hand in your carry on luggage when you arrive in the country in case the border staff asks to see it.
Bolivian Health Insurance Options
Relaxed, friendly, welcoming Bolivia is a favorite among travelers. However, there are two specific health concerns travelers should be aware of. The capital city, La Paz, is the highest capital city in the world. At nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, altitude sickness is a common ailment affecting travelers. Make sure your health insurance plan includes coverage for this illness.
As well, the 43 mile long North Yungas Road, which, connects La Paz and Coroico, is another concern. It’s better known as Bolivia’s “Death Road”. For decades, it was considered the most dangerous road in the world. Some 300 people died there each year! Safety conditions marginally improved in 2009, when the road acquired a second lane and a new, safer highway was built nearby, but extreme danger remains. It’s a beloved destination for extreme cyclists. If this applies to you, triple check your extreme sports travel insurance coverage. This destination might be too extreme for any policy!
Medical Insurance in Columbia
Tropical diseases are widespread in Columbia. Malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever are serious health concerns. Chagas disease, West Nile virus, rabies, and even snakebites are prevalent as well. Speak with your travel medicine team about appropriate vaccines and preventative medication. But in good health news, the country’s once sky-high murder rate has fallen by half since 2002 and its healthcare system is now ranked 22nd in the world.
Health and Medical Plans in Venezuela
There’s no getting around it: Travel to Venezuela is risky. Medical care in Venezuela isn’t just limited. The entire system is in crisis. 20 years ago, record investments and a commitment to universal healthcare saw wonderful improvements in life expectancy and infant mortality rates. Today, many hospitals lack soap and reliable running water. Money can help. Tourists with positive cash flow will be able to afford necessities which are out of reach from local citizens. This includes antibiotics, bandages, and, yes, soap. However, Venezuela’s troubles mean that many doctors, specialists, nurses, and support staff have fled to other countries. As such, you may have to be evacuated to another country for even moderate health concerns. If you must travel here, health insurance is an absolute must.