Columbia's General Healthcare Social Security scheme (Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud, SGSSS) provides universal health coverage to the entire Colombian population and access to quality basic healthcare via fair premiums. Efficiency and quality of service are top priority: the scheme aims to improve health conditions by allocating resources for primary healthcare and prevention in rural and poor areas, and ensuring all health services meet the best possible standards depending on available resources.
Foreign citizens can take out health insurance with EPS, a private organization supervised by the Colombian state. Like a French health insurance plan, it enables reimbursements for medical care received in Colombia. Another option is the “Medicina Prepagada”, an alternative high-end private health insurance system. Premiums are based on age and any pre-existing illness on the subscription date.
Visiting a doctor in Colombia
Doctors in Columbia are highly qualified and most of them have trained abroad. The majority work in the country's largest cities and the cost is usually affordable.
However, the quality of medical services can vary from location to location. Non-Colombian citizens should always visit a GP or specialist doctor in a private facility because that's where most of the highly qualified doctors work.
Lots of foreigners come to Colombia to benefit from the country's efficient medical care. But quality comes with a price: a consultation with a renowned doctor in the private sector will cost much more than with a public one.
Being admitted to hospital in Colombia
Public hospitals operate emergency services but they're very overcrowded. Standards are high in large cities but hospitals in rural areas can't always meet minimum health requirements. The cost of medical care in public hospitals is reasonable and usually covered by the Colombian Social Security system.
Private facilities provide better service and are generally recommended for expatriates or travelers in Colombia. Cash advances are usually required for medical services, but they are affordable.
In case of emergency - dial 123
Buying medication in Colombia
There are lots of pharmacies in Colombia and in large cities like Bogota or Medellin, some are open 24/7. The cost of medication is lower than in other developed countries - although certain drugs are restricted and antibiotics are not always easy to find. Be sure to check that your medication is available before you go or where an equivalent can be found.
Get your health insurance for Colombia
MSH can help you design the best international health insurance plan to suit your needs.
Going for less than a year?
We have the right health insurance plan to cover you for 1 to 12 months, whether it's for a personal project, an apprenticeship, a working holiday or any other reason.
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Rachel lives in Togo and has been with MSH since 2002. After routine surgery, she fell into a coma that lasted 2 months. Her hospitalization cost more than 200,000 euros - but it was all covered by MSH, without her having to get involved. Thanks to the reactivity of the team and their smooth handling of the situation, Rachel's family were able to avoid any extra stress - as was Rachel when she woke up.
Laure and Robert moved to Singapore in 2014 for work - but they ended up starting a family there too! She told MSH that she was pregnant and was amazed by all the support she got. First she received a practical guide on pregnancy (what to do at each stage, medical exams etc.) and then a member of the team called her to explain all her guarantees personally and advise her on the best place to give birth. The day her daughter was born, a gift pack arrived with a growth chart and a baby toy, with all good wishes from MSH. And now there's another one on the way...
Petra was very worried about the surgery she'd been prescribed following an accident at home. Before making her decision, she wanted a second opinion. Thanks to her private health insurance, which included the Second Medical Opinion guarantee, she quickly saw another doctor and got all the answers to her questions. The second doctor agreed that surgery was necessary and Petra went to hospital feeling reassured and confident.
Duration: 12 months, non-renewable Cost: Free + 60 € entry free on arrival in Colombia Leadtime : about 3 months after interview with the Embassy of Colombia
Application requirements are quite similar for all nationalities, however some have to supply more documents.
To apply for a visa in Columbia, you have to:
- Be aged 18 -30 inclusive
- Be without dependents
- Have a valid passport
- Have proof of adequate savings to live in Columbia
- Have a clean criminal record
- Have a medical certificate proving that you're in good health
- Have international health insurance to cover the length of your stay
- Have never had a working holiday visa for Columbia before (1st participation)
- Have the funds necessary to buy a return ticket
How to get your Visa
If you're a French national applying in French:
The first step to getting a visa for Columbia is to sign up on the embassy website and provide all the required documents: passport, bank statements, criminal record extract, medical certificate, insurance certificate, return ticket.
After that, you can book an appointment with the Columbian embassy, specifying your personal details, your passport number, the type of visa you require and your "number de solicitud" - the reference number that you were given during the first stage.
The embassy will then send you a choice of interview dates to evaluate your reasons for living in Columbia.