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Can U.S. citizens enjoy their Medicare Benefits after moving to Costa Rica? What options are there for health care insurance?
Deciding to move to another country requires a lot of due diligence. Checking if your existing medical insurance covers you outside your home country is very important. Many expats move to our country because health care costs are significantly lower than in the US and Canada.
One of the main obstacles restricting many future US expats who dream of an international retirement is that Medicare benefits coverage stops at the US border. A retiree can choose any other form of health insurance abroad, although it is limited and prohibitively expensive.
In Costa Rica, to obtain legal residency, you must register at the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (C.C.S.S. or simply Caja). This replaces your Medicare. There are also many options to get yourself private insurance through INS. Besides, many private international insurances are accepted by the CIMA hospital and the Clinica Biblica, the larger private hospitals here.
If you have Medicare, you might have the possibility of using this insurance in Costa Rica. Depending on the U.S. state you live in, you might be able to use private insurance covered by Medicare.
Blue Cross Blue Shield and quite a few others often allow you to use their services when you live here. Check with Medicare to make sure you can use one of the private health insurance providers before you move here.
You have to pay 9% of your income to the CAJA. This is a lot of money if you are healthy and don’t need health care services. But now, to get legal residency, you also need to register at the CCSS or CAJA. The Resident Association of Costa Rica (ARCR) assists in registering you with the Caja because doing so is not so simple if you don’t speak Spanish.
I did not pay into the Caja system myself for 18 years. Immigration then obliged me to register again to renew my legal residency. I did this through my company, GoDutch Realty. To be able to do this, you need to register your S.A. (local corporation) with the CCSS and then register yourself as an employee of that company.
New residents can register as a “voluntario”, although that option is meant for those who don’t have any income.
Ask your residency attorney (make sure you use a specialized attorney to apply for your legal residency) how to register for the Caja. The Caja has 29 hospitals throughout the national territory, including a national children’s hospital, a geriatric hospital, and a psychiatric hospital.
The Costa Rican government owns the insurance company Instituto Nacional de Seguros (I.N.S.). INS has good medical insurance covering 80% of medical treatment, hospitalization, and prescriptions. The name of this medical insurance is INS Medical. You can email our agent Isidro Gonzalez in English for more exact information and get a cost picture.
I have been with INS Medical myself for many years. It is much cheaper than some international health insurance I have had myself, like Danmark and AETNA. You MUST be a legal resident of Costa Rica to get INS Medical.
Hopefully, this article answers all your questions about Medicare benefits in Costa Rica. Are you buying or selling a property here? Then contact us now.
Photo used in featured image: Image by prostooleh on Freepik