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Cali, Colombia

Healthcare & Health Insurance in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Digital Nomads in Colombia share their experiences with health insurance, healthcare in Colombia, local hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care and more.

What are healthcare services like in Colombia?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Colombia, they replied:

" Minor problems can be taken care of here, but really serious problems require a trip to a bigger City like Bogota which is 11 hours away by car.," commented a person living in Florencia, Colombia.

"There is a vast difference between the lowest level of health insurance and the highest level. The difference is night and day. I have both a low level and high level. I pay $30/mth, SaludTotal low level, $250/mth AXAColpatria, high level. The lower level insurance is required by my high level insurance. With my AXAColpatria, the doctor will come to my house as a non-emergency first response," explained one digital nomad living in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What is the quality of medical care in Colombia like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Colombia, they replied:

"I had a sinus infection and rather than go through the insurance plan, I just went to a private physician and paid cash. The doctor visit (including a basic physical exam) plus an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory injection was less than 20 US dollars," remarked another member in Ibague.

"The public and private insurance are difficult to use because since the pandemic everybody wants to do their work online and they are dropping the ball," explained one expat living in Santa Marta, Colombia.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Colombia?

"You can choose any health Ins company you want here, at a very reasonable price. Sanitas was recommended to me many years ago and I love it. My ambulance ride last year (5 hours) Hospital stay, and open Heart Surgery cost me $1 USD for the co-pay and never a deductable here," said another member in Florencia.

"Colombia is known for its high quality of private medical care and medical universities. Bucaramanga is well known for medical education and we have a plethora of hospitals and doctors. In my experience, prices are much cheaper here than the USA. eg. ACL surgery in the USA can run $60K to $80k, not including physical therapy. ACL surgery here is $5k including physical therapy," explained one person living in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

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What are emergency services like in Colombia?

When we asked about emergency services, members in Colombia wrote:

"Emergency services are pretty good. Better before COVID, of course. Before COVID the only Hospital that I would go to was private, MEDILASER is the nicest and is about 5 minutes from my house.All 3 Hospitals are within 12 minutes from any part of town. We call an ambulance the old fashioned way, with a telephone," wrote one digital nomad living in Florencia, Colombia.

"I live within 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the hospital. The hospital connected to SaludTotal is Clinica de Bucaramanga/ Private. It is old, 2 people to a room, typically no soap in the public bathrooms and I have caught them using water to clean my arm for needle insertion. With AXAColpatria, International Hospital Colombia. New hospital equipped with the latest technology and loaded with specialists doctors. Private large rooms. Very nice, Fast attention with my insurance. I am treated as a VIP. ," said another foreigner in Bucaramanga.

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Will I need to travel to see a specialist?

"I was in the USA last year for medical care and to visit my daughter. Heart problems here require a trip to Neiva, Huila which is 5 hours away, or to Bogota," commented a person living in Florencia, Colombia.

"My insurance is only good for Colombia. There are a multitude of available clinics/hospitals from the small towns to the big cities. My wife received decent care in a small town with SaludTotal for a ear infection.," explained one digital nomad living in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

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Are common prescription medications available in Colombia?

"Many USA prescriptions are over the counter in a multitude of pharmacies throughout the country. This is changing and medicines are coming under more control by the government. I pay $1/copay for my prescriptions. Most medicines I have needed are available here, either by prescription or over the counter. Prices for over the counter medicines are compared 2 to 10 times cheaper than the USA," said another member in Bucaramanga.

"Don't always need a prescription and medicine comparted to the US is really cheap," explained one expat in Medellin.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Colombia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

"As one of the major cities in Colombia, Medellin has 7 or 8 major hospitals, with more than one being recognized for providing world class care in several specialties. Medical care should not be a major worry," wrote one digital nomad living in Medellin, Colombia.

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As a foreigner living in Colombia, will I have access to public healthcare? What is it like?

"I am enrolled with EPS Sanitas,I am the only expat in the whole State of Caqueta. If I am working at a school, the school pays for my health Ins. If I am taking time off from teaching, I pay in the area of $30. USD per month plus a 1 dollar co-pay. My health Ins covers EVERYTHING.. Ambulance, Doctor visits, Hospital stays, Open heart surgery, Medications, Specialist, and any kind of testing necessary. etc... Pre existing = no problem. We have 2 public and 1 private Hospital in Florencia.. The quality of care lately has been lacking a little sicnce Covid hit. The really good Doctors seem to be leaving the area for the bigger cities," said another member in Florencia.

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What have your experiences during the pandemic with the local healthcare system been like?

We asked expats in Colombia if they have access to public healthcare in Colombia. And, if they do have access, what is it like. They wrote...

"My girlfriend required some minor surgery. There was absolutely no problem and no cost. Everybody wears masks, but without them you would never know things were not normal," explained one person living in Ibague, Colombia.

"Difficult to get doctor's appointments, most were only by telephone. Dentists were closed for 4 months straight," wrote one digital nomad living in Pereira, Colombia.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is one of the founders of Digital Nomad Exchange and the Founder and President of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange and Digital Nomad Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

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Cali, Colombia

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

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Help others in Colombia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Colombia.

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