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Retiring in Costa Rica
Cost of Living
Health Care

Medical and Health Care in Costa Rica

The health system in Costa Rica is comparable to the system found in North America, only at a fraction of the price. The Social Security System provides universal insurance benefits, covering medical services, disability, maternity, old-age pensions and death. All employees contribute nine percent of their salary to the health system. The country spends about ten percent of its Gross National Product on health care. Additionally, many Costa Rican doctors were trained in North America and Europe.

Costa Rica has attracted clientele who come for plastic surgery, cataract operations, spa treatments, dental work, and even some heart transplant surgery, as the costs for treatment are low and of a high quality.

Many people flock to Cost Rica for plastic surgery, which can cost half of what is charged in the United States or Europe for the same procedure. Costa Rica also plays host to several conferences on the subject each year, attracting attendees from all over the world to learn the latest and greatest methods.

English and Spanish-speaking Doctors often have bilingual staff in their private offices. The available equipment and techniques in the country are state of the art.

Any foreign national visiting the country has the right to receive health attention at hospitals and clinics in case of an emergency, sudden illness or a chronic disease.

Emergency Telephone Numbers:
-Emergency 911
-Red Cross 128
-Transit Police 222-9330
-INS Transit Accidents 800-800-8000
-Fire 118
-Police 222-1365
-Information 124
Hospitals/Clinics in Costa Rica:

Clinica Biblica
Ave. 14, Calle
Tel: [506] 257-5252
Fax: [506] 255-4947

Clinica Catolica
Barrio Esquivel Bonilla, Guadalupe
Tel: [506] 283-6616

Hospital Cima San Jose
Carretera Prospero Fernandez
Escazú, San José
Tel: [506] 208-1000
Fax: [506] 108-1001

Hospital Nacional de Ninos
Ave. 8, Calles 18/20
Tel: [506] 222-0122

San Juan de Dios Hospital
Ave. Ctrl., Calle 14
Tel: [506] 257-6282

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care in San Jose is adequate, but may be more limited in areas outside of San Jose. Travelers may also find most prescription and over-the-counter medications available in San Jose. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. A list of local doctors and medical facilities can be found at the website of the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, at An ambulance may be summoned by calling 911. The best-equipped ambulances are called “unidad avanzada.”

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at Further health information for travelers is available at

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

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