Retired Americans Living in Bolivia Without Health Insurance

by Raymond
(Palmetto, Fl USA)

My wife and I are thinking of moving to Bolivia to retire. Our only source of income will be social security checks. Will we be able to live medically sound lives with Bolivian medical services?

Comments for Retired Americans Living in Bolivia Without Health Insurance

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 12, 2015
by: Anonymous


Mar 09, 2012
Lived here 34 years now
by: Clara

I have been living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for 34 years now and chose to retire here mainly because of the medical cost in the U.S.A. I have gone through Cancer and all the chemo-cobalt theopy in 2006 and consider myself cancer free. Medications are rising as is true around the world but it is so much easier to get what you want.

Jul 04, 2011
Health Care Options in Bolivia
by: BoliviaBella

Medical care varies greatly in Bolivia. Typically the government-run facilities are in constant trouble: budget problems, lack of infrastructure, lack of essential equipment, lack of personnel, frequent strikes by doctors and nurses.

There are, as Jony says below, some NGO-run facilities which are usually pretty good. They are intentionally inexpensive because the cost is offset for patients by aid from non-governmental organizations, or in many cases by aid from other countries (Germany, Holland, Japan, the US) through grants and donations. The problems arise when those countries reduce their funding.

Then you have the private clinic or private hospital option. Bolivia has some very good private clinics and hospitals and lots of good doctors who studied overseas in the US, Europe and other places. The cost is usually much higher than at other clinics, but nowhere near what health care costs in the US. There are a lot of people in the US, for example, who wait until they travel to Bolivia to all their medical and dental check-ups, plastic surgery, etc.

You also have the option of taking our health insurance here. As anywhere else, insurance companies won't cover pre-existing conditions. Many insurance companies here are underwritten by international insurance brokers. They are expensive by Bolivian terms, but much less expensive than the US. It depends, of course, on what coverage you choose.

There are other insurance plans that are offered by the clinics and hospitals themselves. They cover specific needs and doctors. It's kind of like "subscribing" to that one particular hospital. There are similar insurance providers that list doctors who have chosen to be members of that insurance company and who may work at different hospitals.

So there are plenty of options and health care doesn't have to be awful. But it isn't free.

My concern would be for specific types of health care such as cancer treatment, for example, or kidney dialysis. There is very little equipment available for the really serious illnesses. Frequently we hear that certain types of equipment fail, then parts are needed, then patients are put on hold without treatment for weeks at a time.

In sum, most of the good health care is provided by private doctors and clinics - in other words, private investment as well as donations from other countries. Things are improving slowly, but if it weren't for aid from other countries' governments, NGOs, and private donations, health care in this country would be a disaster!

Jul 03, 2011
you can find medical centers at a low cost
by: Jonny Algarañaz

Hi there,

I read you post. Well, let me tell you that health service in Bolivia isn't as bad as many people think. Health service in our country is improving a lot comparing to ten or twenty years ago.

It is truth that you can find very expensive medical centers in my country but you can also find lots of medical centers that are really cheap.

For example, every time I get sick I run to PROSALUD which is a private medical center run by UNICEF.

To see the doctor you pay 30 Bolivianos.

There are many private medical centers run by international organizations that are really cheap.

Concerning about your retirement, I think being retired doesn't mean you can't do some part-time work. You can be teaching English for three hours a day with a good pay. I know many Americans who teach English here.

I hope I had helped with something. My name is Jonny Algarañaz. I'm a 35 year-old single man from Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
I live in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the largest and most populated city in Bolivia.

I lived in the states eleven years ago and I know health service in USA is expensive.

Well, that's all I have to say.

Until next time and take care!


Jul 03, 2011
health insurance
by: Steve Baker

YES! For about the same cost as your US Medicare premiums. Also, medicines, etc. are cheaper in Bolivia.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Travel Forum.