Jan 10 2012

Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Join the Caja, Costa Rica’s National Medical System

$61.00 per month — this is the amount we pay for health insurance in Costa Rica, and this is one of the main reasons we stay in Costa Rica. (NOTE: amount updated after 23% rate increase in late 2012 for voluntarios — immigrants who joined the Caja voluntarily, and another increase in January 2014.)

The Caja is Costa Rica’s public health care system. The full name is the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). I call the Caja the “trump card” because it’s one of the best – if not the best — health care systems in Central America. Many consider it to be one of the best universal health care systems in the world. It’s not perfect, but it’s already saving us a lot of money every month, and we are a lot more relaxed and less stressed regarding our medical futures.

Our monthly out-of-pocket medical costs are less than $150 per month, mostly for prescription drugs not covered under Caja, and including vitamins which we also purchased in the U.S. There are no more doctor co-pays, pharmacy co-pays, nor is there a large monthly premium.

In addition, all pre-existing conditions are covered

Getting Prescriptions Filled

To give you an idea about the difference in pricing of prescription medicines here, when Gloria was visiting the U.S., she checked to see the cost of buying out-of-pocket a medication she takes that isn’t covered by Caja.  She compared the cost of buying the generic in the States to the name brand purchased here (the generic wasn’t available in Costa Rica).  The generic in the U.S. was more than twice the cost of the name brand purchased here.

Should you desire to use the private system in Costa Rica, as we have at times and many people do, you will still save a lot of money. We have seen specialists privately for about $50 a visit and have had tests done (biopsy, ultrasound, PAP smear), all of which have been around $30-$70 each.

Getting Blood Drawn and X-Rays

We’ve learned the system and we use it extensively. Gloria even had surgery here in San Ramon last year, with great results.  You can read about her experience here.  And you can contact us if you would like help navigating, or learning about, the Costa Rican health care system.




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