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Health insurance in Ecuador

Getting comprehensive health insurance plans for living in or travelling to Ecuador is simple. Get a free Ecuadorian health insurance quote today.

view of quito in ecuador, representing ecuadorian health insurance

Ecuador: a country full of colors

The Republic of Ecuador, named for its position near the Equator, is a relatively small country in the northwestern region of South America. It shares borders with Colombia and Peru, with two populated cities: Guayaquil and the capital city of Quito. It’s 16 million people speak Spanish as their national language, with many expats calling the country home for its rich culture, amazing natural environment, and welcoming community feel.

Overview of healthcare in Ecuador

Ecuadorian healthcare is divided into a public and private sector. A comprehensive national health system provides free medical care to all residents regardless of income. Remote and rural areas are also served by this same system where all physicians, dentists, and nurses being required to perform a one-year “rural” posting in order to receive their professional licensing.

Unfortunately, there has still been a shortage of staff, medicine, and hospital equipment in Ecuador’s public system, meaning wait times for treatment can be high and the quality of care is often lower than Western standards. Care can be more difficult in rural areas. Expats can still use the public system, however there is still some confusion about what public services come free and which foreigners are expected to pay out-of-pocket.

Private healthcare facilities are deemed adequate in the major cities, while elsewhere their service and abilities may be lacking by Western standards. With the increase of expats in the country, more investment has been poured into private healthcare in the past decade around urban areas. Good private hospitals can be on par with international standards, however they can be expensive.

Medical insurance options in Ecuador

As previously mentioned, the local Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social (or IESS) can be voluntarily paid into by foreigners in order to access free public medical care. The cost of paying into the system is 17.6% of your income which, for many expats, can be a considerable amount. The previous contribution amount was for a percentage of Ecuador’s national minimum wage.

Private medical insurance is available in many forms in Ecuador. There are both local and international plans that cover medical treatment in the country, while tourists can find travel plans that provide travel-related benefits with health aspects. The costs of private insurance depends on the type you purchase, as well as your own circumstances. Travel plans are cheapest, with local plans less expensive than international ones.

International plans are the most comprehensive, however, and can provide benefits that include medical evacuation to more capable locations if required, as well as more freedom of choice in the facilities and physicians you can seek care from. These plans can range from as little as USD 66 a month for a basic plan, through to USD 942 for a fully comprehensive plan that includes dental, maternity, and a whole host of other benefits.

The cost of medical treatment in Ecuador

The upside for many travelling to Ecuador is that the cost of healthcare can be relatively inexpensive compared with Western countries. Many American expats are often surprised at how much less they pay for services such as x-rays, tests, and medicine, however the cost of a catastrophic illness can still be extremely high. Also, due to high demand and low resources, waiting for treatment for serious illnesses like cancer can be dangerously long.

Many buy Ecuadorian health insurance in order to offset the costs of having better access to quick and efficient private care. While the public system can be adequate for healthy individuals who need little more than cold or flu medicine once or twice a year, those who have higher medical needs opt for the security of an insurance policy.

Some examples include:

Service

Cost (USD)

Knee replacement

5,500

Hip replacement

5,500

LASIK surgery

1,400

Hospital accommodation        

250 - 1,000

Dentures

420

Root canals

220

Colonoscopy

250

Common health concerns in Ecuador

In Ecuador, there are a number of local health issues related to its tropical climate as well as a host of other health concerns you should take caution of if you are travelling there. These include:

  • Dengue fever is a problem, as it is in all tropical climates. However, there is a belief that the higher altitudes of Ecuador pose less of a risk due to mosquitos being unable to thrive in such environments.
  • Malaria is also a risk and one that can be serious. People spending a lot of time outdoors should take the necessary precautions (repellant, appropriate clothing etc).
  • Zika virus is also a risk in Ecuador and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women avoid travel to Ecuador if possible.
  • Typhoid Fever is prevalent in Ecuador.
  • Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ecuador.

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis A and B, typhus, rabies, and yellow fever vaccinations are all recommended for travelling to Ecuador. Parts of the country, such as Quito, are very high altitude, so some people may suffer altitude sickness.

Get a quote

If Ecuador is your next destination, it’s worth considering what sort of health insurance you’ll need in case you find yourself in need of medical care. There are a range of different options available to you and to ensure you’ve got all the coverage you’ll need, it’s worth talking to the best insurance broker around. Contact us for some helpful advice, or click here to use our free online quotation tool.

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