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Saturday, May 27, 2017

This Crazy Health Insurance Requirement

When we first came to Ecuador we were told that we might need to prove ourselves healthy. So we went to our doctor and got a letter stating that we were in good health and unlikely to strain the health care system here.

Unlike the US, (yes, that is a dig) they have a socialized health care system here that one could participate in. We never got around to applying and opted to put cash aside every month to pay for medical incidentals. (Dentist, doctor etc.) Until I hurt my leg/hip, we'd spent maybe $200 on such things. 
I guess that when...

Then the ugly head of mismanagement raised its head. This is strictly my opinion, the Ecuadorian government puts the onus on extranjeros that are straining the system as they aren't paying into it.  I guess that's possible, there are a lot of immigrants coming from Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia and  other Latin American countries to try and improve their lot in life. (Aren't we all?) Here, they take care of your medical needs and worry about payment after. Because of that and some North Americans who have also taken advantage of the system, it has left the Ecuadorians to foot the bill. I can see how that might put a strain on a countries budget, especially when the rug has been pulled our from under them in the form of devalued oil. That doesn't mean that bribery, embezzlement, fraud and plain old mismanagement haven't contributed to the situation. The health system is going broke. do stuff like this...
Anyhow, in classic reactive style, they have decided to make health coverage manditory. For the social program (for the two of us) they want 21% of our stated income that we used to apply for the pension visa. (Yes, more than a fifth of our gross income.) So we started checking out other options and the cost of health insurance is SHAMEFUL. (We belong to the tribe of "Insurance-is-mostly-a-money-grab" (Yet, we always buy travel insurance...go figure!) Granted, compared to what is paid in the US (or so we've heard) the rates are low here, but to an innocent Canadian with universal health care benefits back home, it was all rather shocking. is a good thing.
We finally found something that was acceptable to us (private coverage), but it's still costing us $115 USD (yay us for being under 65) that we weren't really putting out before.I'm trying not to resent the fact that we are required to pay for something that we'll likely never need. In truth, it's a small price to pay for my freedom here. So, be prepared, the rules are changing (not a surprise) and you might be turned back at the border if you don't have health insurance. You can't say we didn't warn you.


  1. How does the private insurance compare to the government plan in terms of deductible and benefits.
    In BC it costs $150 CAD per month for two people, this is supposed to be cut in half.

    1. The two are similar, in that they have specific hospitals and doctors that can be used. IESS (Ecuador's social and health net) also provides a pension to qualified applicants - similar to OAS, I would presume. BCMed is definitely less expensive, even as it stands. IESS require 17.5% of your income for individuals and 21% for couples.

  2. It does seem extremely high for socialized medical
    its more like the rates in the US for private medical.

  3. Hi, I have been following your blog for a while, as my husband and I are moving to Cuenca from Ontario in July. I was wondering what private insurance company you found, as we are looking for the cheapest alternative. We were not going to get health insurance originally, we are healthy, under 65, and were just going to go pay-as-you-go route. Thanks for any info. Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for following along on our journey! We were miffed that pay as you go is no longer an option, to be sure. We decided to go with Bellgenica. It offers partial coverage (mostly 80% of costs) and has several tiers of "incident" coverage. That means they'll cover up to a certain dollar amount per medical issue. I think the lowest you can get is $10,000 per incident. We went mid-range, as it would be ironic to have a medical emergency (ie being hit by a bus, needing to be airlifted off a mountain in the Cajas etc) and not have enough coverage to pay the bills. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions.