Healthcare in Costa Rica

Learn more about Costa Rica’s healthcare system and discover where you must go in case of emergency

The Costa Rican public health system is one of the best of South America. But, in some aspects such as user service or facilities, it is under the European standards. You must take into account that the public healthcare network is insufficient concerning the demand.

Healthcare in Costa Rica

There are not any sanitary agreements with most of the countries, so if you are travelling to Costa Rica, it is recommended to hire a private health insurance to cover all the hypothetical hospital and repatriation fees. If not, you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to pay for the medical treatments in advance, and medical fees can be very high.  

The main health problem that can be suffered by tourists is traveller’s diarrhoea. This illness can be caused by several infectious agents, and people can be infected when drinking or eating contaminated water or food. To avoid it, you should follow certain recommendations:    

It is advisable to eat cooked meals that are still hot while avoiding the cooked but cold ones.

- Avoid eating raw vegetables or unpeeled fruit.

- Avoid eating street food.

- Avoid food containing raw or undercooked eggs, as well as sauces and mayonnaises.

- Drink only bottled water, and avoid consuming ice if you are not sure it was prepared with safe water. You must be very careful in rural areas.

Prolonged exposure to heat or sun must be controlled or avoided as Costa Rica’s location in the tropic makes the sunlight stronger with an inclination of 90º in April and August. It is recommended to not take sunbathes at noon, nevertheless, you must use the adequate sunscreen at any time of the day. Put more sunscreen in the most exposed parts of your body 30 minutes before getting exposed to the sun, and repeat it again after taking a bath or practising sport. Moreover, it is strongly recommended to cover your head with a cap or a hat, as well as wearing sunglasses. Also,it is advisable to drink enough water to remain hydrated and avoid practising strenuous activities at high temperatures.   

For more information on the last health alerts, including Zika virus, go to travel to Costa Rica: vaccines.  

Useful telephone numbers

Public hospitals

Emergencies: 2295-4911

San Juan de Dios Hospital: 2257-6282

Children’s Hospital: 2222-0122

Mexico Hospital: 2232-6122

Private hospitals

CIMA Hospital (Escazú): 2208-1000

Bíblica Clinique, Central St. and 1, 14 y 16 Avenues (San José) : 2522-1000

La Católica Hotel Hospital (Guadalupe, Goicoechea):  2246 3000

Poison Control Centre: 2223-1028

Burns Unit: 2257-0180

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