When preparing to study abroad, there are a number of concerns that students need to take into consideration. Not the least of these concerns is the matter of health insurance. It is important for students to be familiar with the health system of their host country, so that they are prepared and know what to expect should they become sick or injured during their stay.
Since 1988, everyone in Brazil—including legal foreign residents such as international students—has guaranteed access to medical care. The Brazilian health care system is composed of a large public, government managed system, the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), which serves the majority of the population, and a private sector, managed by health insurance funds and private entrepreneurs.
SUS sits on three basic principles of universality, comprehensiveness, and equity. Universality states that all citizens must have access to health care services, without any form of discrimination regarding skin color, income, social services, gender, or any other variable. People who make use of the government’s free public health system pay nothing for doctors’ fees, lab fees, hospitalization, surgery, or prescription drugs.
However, because wait times are long and the private system provides better care, the more affluent Brazilians generally use the private system, which covers about 20% of the Brazilian population. Though foreign residents in Brazil are covered by SUS, the majority of them choose private health insurance in Brazil. We recommend that international students invest in private health insurance before setting out on their study abroad.
Many insurance firms in Brazil offer four principle types of medical insurance plans: private health insurance, prepaid group practice, medical cooperatives, and company health plans. Costs of private insurance in Brazil vary according to the provider, coverage, and region. The plans also offer varying terms and conditions. For example, some private health insurance policies require the policy holder to pay the hospital bill up front and then obtain reimbursement from the insurance company, while other insurance companies will pay the bill immediately.
Another option is to choose to purchase student health insurance back home before departing for Brazil. You might find that your current health insurance provider has participating doctors and hospitals in Brazil, and extends coverage to you during your travels. If this is not the case, we offer a number of plans to students who are planning on studying, traveling, or visiting in Brazil, including the Atlas Travel and Student Secure plans. Make sure to examine a policy carefully before purchasing it, to ensure that it meets your specific needs.