Health care costs are much cheaper in Ecuador than in North America. Even so, it's a good idea to consider health insurance while living in Cuenca, or anywhere else in Ecuador.
We're often asked for an idea on the cost of health care in Ecuador. We relate the story of Lulie's broken leg.
While we lived in Cotacachi, she broke the tibia and fibula in her right leg, just above the ankle. The ambulance (free) took her to the Cotacachi hospital, which sent her to the free Saint Vincent de Paul hospital in Ibarra (a 45 minute trip, again free in the ambulance).
At the hospital, they took x-rays and determined that they she required surgery (one bone was broken in two, while the other was in several pieces). They called in an orthopedic surgeon from a nearby clinic.
He took a look at the x-rays and made arrangements for Lulie to be transported to the clinic where he worked. The next morning she had two titanium plates and about 12 titanium screws put into her leg.
She spent two nights in the clinic, with meals that were a little better than what's served in North American hospitals.
What would be the cost in the US for the surgery, the titanium plates and screws, plus two nights in a private room and meals and meds? $25,000? We've had people estimate it closer to $50,000.
Jeff wrote a check for $2,400 (that's right, two thousand, four hundred dollars) on the Sunday morning (because the banks were closed). And they were happy to take his check. Try that in North America!
Follow-up visits to the surgeon were $20 each.
She had the plates taken out in Cuenca by one of the country's leading orthopedic surgeons, who's also a sports medicine doctor, for less than $600, including the operating room costs.
If you're in good health, take care of yourself, and watch what you're doing (especially regarding the sidewalks and motor vehicles in Cuenca), you might not need health insurance in Cuenca for a long while.
You might consider putting aside some money every year to self-insure yourself. Then, should something happen that requires hospitalization or (relatively) expensive drugs, you'll have cash you can use to pay your medical bills.
If your health is deteriorating, or you have a pre-existing condition, you'll want to consider obtaining health insurance here. Yes, some companies do cover pre-existing conditions, with some limitations.
If you plan to be outside the country at all, especially the United States, you should definitely buy health insurance, and buy a package that includes worldwide coverage. The last thing you want is to become sick or have an accident and lose your life savings and all your retirement income.
Some of the insurance providers are Ecuador-based, and others are subsidiaries of international insurance companies.
One that we know of is Best Doctors Insurance Limited, which offers many options here in Ecuador.
Their UltimateCare™ policy offers $1 million per year coverage, up to age 64. The coverage is worldwide, so you can travel, and the renewal is guaranteed for life (up to age 64).
The Best Doctors GlobalCare™ insurance offers $1 million per year coverage up to age 70, $500,000 from age 70. The coverage is also worldwide, although inside the US, you have to use the Best Doctors Network of hospitals and doctors.
The PremierPlus™ policy covers you for up to $2 million coverage per year, up to age 70. The coverage is worldwide.
The MedicalElite™ policy gives you up to $5 million coverage per year, up to age 74. The coverage is worldwide.
Best Doctors Insurance's UltimateCare™ has the cheapest premiums of the four, so if you're healthy and looking for basic coverage, it's your best bet.
If you don't speak Spanish, or aren't completely fluent, use an agency to find and negotiate your policy with the large insurers.
One of the best is Rovisa S.A., located at 31-71 Avenida de las Américas, at Los Naranjos. Rosa Vintimilla, the owner, has been in the business for a long time, and speaks pretty good English.
The office phone number is 07-2846668. Or call her on her cell at 09-9489061. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're looking for health insurance in Cuenca, you have options. But don't try to buy a policy from an insurance company on your own here in Cuenca. Have an English-speaking agent help you find the right policy for your health care needs.
That way you won't have a shock when it comes time to file a claim.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!