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Quality of healthcare in Brazil

When you’re planning on moving to a foreign country, one of the first things you’ll want to do is understand how its healthcare system works. Doing so will ensure that you’re ready to face any unexpected situations and deal with them in the best way possible. While you might already be familiar with how Latin American healthcare systems work, this Pacific Prime Latin America article takes a closer look at the quality of healthcare in Brazil.

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Brazil’s healthcare system

Brazil’s healthcare system is one of the country’s leading attributes. Thanks to the Brazilian constitution, any person who is legally in Brazil can access medical care. The constitution, which has been in place since 1988, makes it possible for expats, international students, and other foreigners who are legally in the country to enjoy public healthcare.

Healthcare in Brazil varies from the public national healthcare system and private providers funded by the government through the Social Security budget to the private healthcare system via private insurance providers or employers.

Brazilian hospitals

Hospitals in Brazil are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and modern facilities. The city of São Paulo is home to world-class medical facilities, including clinics and hospitals. Most major cities in Brazil have one or two private hospitals, though you’ll find even more in popular tourist areas. There are over 6,500 hospitals in Brazil, more than 70 percent of which are in the private sector.

Even so, it can be difficult to find doctors, opticians, and dentists who speak English if you don’t go to an international hospital or clinic. It’s advisable to have a Portuguese speaker with you when seeking medical treatment if you are not fluent in the language yourself.

Public vs private

Those who cannot afford private healthcare in Brazil use the free public healthcare system to avoid paying for doctor’s fees, hospitalization, surgery, and even medication. Fortunately, public government-funded facilities in Brazil are known for their high-quality medical services. However, these clinics and hospitals tend to be crowded with long wait times since they are free. Government hospital facilities are also not of the same standard as private alternatives, lacking amenities such as air conditioning and some types of medical equipment.

With shorter wait times and a higher level of care, it’s no surprise that expats and Brazilians who can afford it opt for the private system. It’s estimated that 20 percent of the Brazilian population choose private healthcare. While expats in Brazil can receive free medical treatment at government facilities, they will be charged for treatment at private hospitals.

Nonetheless, the medical facilities in Brazil’s private hospitals are exceptional. In fact, Brazil is regarded as one of South America’s leading medical tourism destinations.

Healthcare advice for expats in Brazil

Even though foreigners in Brazil qualify for emergency care, most prefer private healthcare for its comfort, better facilities, and shorter wait time. It’s important to mention that private facilities may only give you treatment if you can prove that you have private health insurance or enough money to cover your medical bills. Therefore, unless you happen to have excess funding readily available, your best bet is to secure a health insurance plan.

Getting health insurance in Brazil

If you’re originally from a country that doesn’t require private health insurance, then finding the right health insurance plan can be an overwhelming and confusing task. To start, private health insurance policies usually include insurance coverage options such as inpatient, outpatient, maternity, vision, and dental.

Inpatient coverage, or hospital insurance coverage, covers your hospital bills. Typically, health insurance plans offer inpatient coverage as a minimum requirement. Outpatient coverage, on the other hand, provides coverage for medical treatment outside of hospital admission. For example, General Practitioner (GP) visits would fall into this category.

As the name suggests, maternity coverage is an additional benefit that can supplement your existing insurance plan if you’re planning a pregnancy. Maternity insurance covers costs such as prenatal, delivery, and emergency postnatal care if necessary. Many people are not aware that maternity coverage has a waiting period of up to two years, which means you should secure this type of insurance before getting pregnant. Vision and dental coverage are two popular add-ons that help cover dental and optical expenses.

Other factors that you must consider when purchasing health insurance is whether you’ll need local or global coverage along with coverage for pre-existing conditions, to name a few.

Need help finding the right insurance plan?

Narrowing down the best insurance plan can be stressful and time-consuming. That’s why it’s recommended to consult with a reputable insurance broker like Pacific Prime. Whether you’re looking for individual health insurance or health insurance for your family, we can help you find the best health insurance for expats in Brazil. Additionally, we compare health insurance in Latin America and across the globe to ensure you’re getting the right plan for your needs and budget.

Contact us for a no-obligation, free quote today! You can also check out our blog for informative articles such as our 5 tips for expats moving to Latin America.

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