In Ecuador, health care is divided in public and private. As elaborated on in the Work section, with a labor contract, you are automatically registered in the healthcare system. Also, if you work on a freelance basis, you can register at IESS for health coverage and save for retirement.
Another option is to get a private health insurance. Naturally, an IESS health insurance only covers healthcare in public institutions. The coverage of a private health insurance depends on the package you purchase.
Take into account that few doctors speak adequate English, so make sure you make an appointment with an English-speaking doctor or take somebody to translate if you do not speak Spanish.
The government has invested a lot in public healthcare over the last decade, which increased the quality of good hospitals and doctors. Nevertheless, it is often difficult to make an appointment within one or two weeks, which makes it difficult to rely on IESS when you need to see a doctor urgently. To be covered through the IESS system, you have to be registered with your identification number and follow the procedure to be able to see a specialist.
Private Health Institutions
In Quito, you find different types of private health care institutions from small clinics with a single doctor, to large private hospitals. The advantage of large clinics with several doctors and specialists and hospitals, is that all medical facilities are located in one building.
Quality of private health care varies a lot in Ecuador and the best option is to rely on hospitals and clinics recommended by others and check international listings. Private health institutions that are perceived as of good quality are:
For private health care, the healthcare has to be paid directly if your health insurance does not have an agreement with the clinic or hospital. To make sure the healthcare is covered, you should check which health institutions is covered by your insurance.
Whether you are publicly or privately insured, your insurance should be able to help you find doctors in your network. If you need to see a specialist, you may need to see a general care doctor first for a referral.
If you prefer a specific recommendation, your embassy can usually recommend a list of doctors which is particularly helpful if you are not comfortable in Spanish.
Generally, IESS also covers basic dental care (if you have pay IESS contribution as a freelancer this depends on your package).
It depends on your private health insurance if dental care is covered, but in most packages, this is not the case. Luckily, a visit to the dentist for a check-up costs no more than $30 USD to $40 USD.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Quito is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Ecuador. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Ecuador: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.