If you’re planning to move to (or even visit) Ecuador, you’ve probably heard about the new health insurance requirements. Do you need to buy health insurance in Ecuador? Here’s what you need to know.
Ecuador Health Insurance Requirements
This post is divided into two sections. Here are the short answers:
- Expat requirements: All Ecuador residents (permanent or temporary) require health insurance. This can be through public IESS or private company.
- Traveler requirements: All travelers to Ecuador require proof of health insurance as an entry requirement.
Need travel health insurance? Check out our set of recommended health insurance providers.
Now, here are all the details.
“Do I Need Health Insurance in Ecuador?”
Last week, a reader asked this question:
Do Residents Need Health Insurance in Ecuador?
If you spend any time in the forums and groups, you’ll know that there are many opinions about this. And while there is (or was) truth to much of it, things continue to change.
To clarify this question, we asked a Cuenca immigration lawyer to weigh in. Here’s what Nelson Idrovo (of Idrovo & Velastegui Attorneys) had to say:
“The new law states it is obligatory for all residents, permanent or temporary, to have health insurance that covers them in Ecuador. This applies to all residents, without exception, whether they are new residents or became residents before the new law went into effect.
They can elect to use the public insurance IESS or contract a private company. The law further states that foreigners that have insurance have 90 days from August 3, 2017 to provide proof of insurance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” – Nelson Idrovo
So yes, Ecuador residents require health insurance. They can choose either from IESS (public insurance) or a private company. What’s important (and required) is that a policy be established and that proof be provided to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (Spanish: Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social (IESS)), is an autonomous entity that is part of the social security system of Ecuador and is responsible for implementing the mandatory universal insurance, according to the Constitution of the Republic, in force since 2008. via Wikipedia
Pros and Cons of Ecuador Health Insurance
Now about the pros and cons of Ecuador health insurance. First of all, this is obligatory. So in one way, it’s irrelevant if it’s good or bad. Expats wanting to remain in Ecuador must have this. That being said, there are some benefits.
- Pros: You’ll be covered for any serious medical condition should something arise. While we lived in Ecuador, Drew and I both had surgery and I was hospitalized for food poisoning. I also got bit by a dog and we all had parasites. Many expats we’ve heard from didn’t have insurance and had to pay out-of-pocket.
- Cons: The biggest negative for most expats is the cost. Many expats move with limited funds and the thought of being forced to spend additional money makes some unhappy. There is an argument that this is just another layer of tramites (red tape) by the federal government. That being said, the government is legislating the health and safety of its foreign residents and that is a noble objective.
If you are a resident in Ecuador, you’ll need to consider what type of insurance you’ll use when you travel outside of the country. Here are 5 great travel insurance options for expats. Our Ecuador resident readers most frequently travel with Atlas Travel Insurance and World Nomads.
Do Tourists Need Health Insurance in Ecuador?
So you might be wondering, does the law apply to tourists as well – or only residents?
Here’s what Nelson had to say:
“The law states that all tourists entering Ecuador are required to have travel insurance that covers them in Ecuador for the duration of their stay.
Starting in the first part of May 2018 the authorities will begin requesting proof of said insurance upon entry.” – Nelson Idrovo
Yes, tourists do require health insurance to visit Ecuador – but it isn’t being enforced yet (but it will be in May 2018). That being said – a little insurance is never a bad idea.
And there you have it: both residents and tourists require health insurance in Ecuador.
Do you usually travel with a travel insurance policy? Have you already bought your resident health insurance in Ecuador? Did you choose IESS or a private policy? Let us know in the comments!