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Health insurance in Ecuador

Locally compliant medical insurance plans for those residing or working in Ecuador. Tailored Ecuador health insurance plans and quotes available.

Health insurance in Ecuador
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Your guide to health insurance in Ecuador

The Republic of Ecuador, named for its position near the equator, is a relatively small country in the northwestern region of South America. Its 16 million people speak Spanish as their native language. Many expats call the country home for its rich culture, amazing natural environment, and welcoming community feel. 

Those traveling or moving to Ecuador can find information below on health insurance in Ecuador, be it private health insurance or travel policy, as well as how Ecuador's healthcare system works. Read on to learn more, or click below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.

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Overview of Ecuador healthcare system

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

However, 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. While expats can still use the public system, there is still some confusion about what public services come free and what services foreigners have to pay out-of-pocket.

Private healthcare facilities are deemed adequate in the major cities, while elsewhere their services and qualities may be lacking by Western standards. With more expats entering 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 but are expensive.

Medical insurance options in Ecuador

Expats visiting Ecuador for over 90 days are now required to have health insurance that covers them for the entire duration of their stay in the country. 

For holders of temporary and permanent residency visas, there are two options for health insurance available.

IESS

Foreigners can choose to enroll in the local Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social (or IESS) to access free public medical care. It will be paid through contributions either by yourself or by your employer (if you are employed). The cost of enrollment is 17.6% of your income, which can be a considerable amount for many expats. 

But the upside is that public medical care will be 100% free when you are enrolled. Having said that, some IESS pharmacies may lack the medications you need, and the quality of medical care provided by IESS facilities can vary significantly.

Private health insurance

Private medical insurance is available in many forms in Ecuador. There are both local and international plans that cover medical treatment in the country. The costs of private insurance depend on the type you purchase, as well as your own circumstances. A local plan is more suitable for those with lower budgets, yet it covers much less geographically.

On the other hand, international plans are the most comprehensive and can provide benefits that include medical evacuation to more equipped hospitals in other 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, 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 of traveling to Ecuador is that the cost of healthcare can be relatively cheap compared to Western countries. Many American expats are often surprised at how much less they pay for services such as X-rays, tests, and medicine, yet the treatment cost of a critical illness can still be extremely high. Also, due to high demand and low resources, wait times for treatment for serious illnesses like cancer can be dangerously long.

Although the public healthcare system is adequate for healthy individuals who need little more than cold or flu medicine once or twice a year, those with higher medical needs usually opt for private health insurance to offset the potential exorbitant medical costs. Below is an example of services and costs in an Ecuador hospital.

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

A host of local health issues in Ecuador are related to its tropical climate, which you should take caution of if you are traveling 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 since mosquitos are not able 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 pregnant women should avoid travel to Ecuador if possible.

  • Typhoid fever is prevalent in Ecuador.

  • Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ecuador.

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

Get a quote for expats in Ecuador

Pacific Prime offers a wide variety of healthcare plans and travel insurance policies with possible benefit packages including dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many more. Contact our professional advisers today to receive a plan comparison, and no-obligation free health insurance quote.

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