Healthcare in Puerto Rico is of a high standard, but conditions vary throughout the island. The standard of healthcare is similar to what one would expect in the US, but some areas are better equipped than others. While medical professionals in Puerto Rico are highly knowledgeable, there is a pronounced shortage of doctors as public healthcare is underfunded. Many move over to the US, enticed by the prospect of better pay.
The island is home to dozens of hospitals, not to mention clinics and pharmacies. There are also several hospitals and other healthcare facilities in San Juan that have medical staff on-site around the clock.
Public healthcare in Puerto Rico
Public healthcare in Puerto Rico is managed under a government-run programme. This programme provides medical and healthcare services through contracted private health insurance companies.
The quality of public healthcare is generally good, but due to the shortage of doctors, expats should expect long waiting times even if they've scheduled an appointment in advance. Most expats opt for private healthcare instead.
Private healthcare and health insurance in Puerto Rico
Expats can expect private healthcare in Puerto Rico to be of a high standard, with shorter waiting times. Insurance is recommended. Medical insurance is affordable, especially if an expat has their insurance through their employer. Insurers in Puerto Rico are also typically more open to covering procedures and services that may not have been covered in an expat's home country, like pre-existing conditions. Small co-payments are standard in most health insurance policies.
Health hazards in Puerto Rico
There are no major health risks associated with Puerto Rico. Tap water is considered clean and safe to drink.
Routine vaccinations, such as those for measles, polio, tetanus and others, should be kept up to date, but there are no specific vaccinations required to enter Puerto Rico.
Emergencies in Puerto Rico
In a medical emergency, call 911. Many operators will speak Spanish when answering a call, but a transfer to an English speaker is usually possible. Ambulances are run by private companies and require payment upfront. Health insurance may cover this, but it's always best to confirm this ahead of time in case there is an emergency in future.
►For information on housing, see Accommodation in Puerto Rico
"The healthcare is generally very good. But, if I had a major health concern or needed surgery, I’d go back to the US."
Learn more about the expat experience in Puerto Rico in our interview with American expat Lynn.
Are you an expat living in Puerto Rico?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Puerto Rico. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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