Brazil – public healthcare vs private healthcare

Brazil – public healthcare vs private healthcare

7th April, 2016

Brazil has taken huge leaps forward over the past few years. It is considered a fast emerging economy with the fourth biggest democracy in the world. It seems to be a case of two extremes in Brazil. There is severe poverty mixed with wealth in this country. And, it is fair to say that the public healthcare system and the private healthcare system reflect this as well. Read on to discover a bit more about both…

Public healthcare system

Let’s start by assessing the public healthcare system in Brazil. The public system is run very similarly to the NHS in the UK. It is government funded and available to all. Nevertheless, it is heavily reliant on private provision.

Overall the standard of public health care in Brazil is fair. You can expect a good level of care in some areas, but inadequate in others. If you were to experience an emergency whilst in Brazil you could expect good quality treatment. However, let’s say you required nursing care, you would likely be disappointed with the standard. In fact, a lot of expatriates remark that it is not as good as they anticipated.

It is also important to bear in mind the fact that the standard of care changes dependant on where in Brazil you are based. If you go outside of the major cities the standard drops drastically. If you are situated in one of the main cities you must anticipate waiting lists and big crowds.

Private health sector

Most expats secure an expat health insurance plan before moving to Brazil. They rely on the private system, even in cases of emergencies, especially as most of the private hospitals have their own ambulance services. In fact, a lot of Brazilians also opt for private medical insurance, as the standard is much higher.

One important factor to take into account is the fact that most private hospitals will demand a big deposit upon admission. This is why it is highly advisable to source a worldwide medical insurance plan prior to your move. Your insurer will make sure you have a health card. This will assist with admission and you should be able to get the costs reimbursed. Please note that you will often have to give family doctors cash in hand. This is something you should discuss with your insurer prior to taking out your policy. 

All in all, if you are moving to Brazil it is highly advisable to assess your private global health insurance options before you do so. The public healthcare system is patchy and you do not want to suffer at the hands of this. 

Also have a look at our Brazil country guide

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