Learn about the healthcare system in Brazil
Before studying in a foreign country, you will want to first familiarize yourself with the country’s health care system. This way, if the unexpected should happen, you will be prepared and know how best to deal with the situation.
Brazil’s health care is one of the country’s strongest attributes. Since 1988, the Brazilian constitution has guaranteed that everyone in Brazil have access to medical care. This medical care is available to everyone who is legally in Brazil, which, of course, includes foreigners such as international students. Health care in Brazil can be obtained from the public national health system, from private providers subsidized by the federal government via the Social Security budget, or from the private sector via private insurance or employers.
Brazilian hospitals are equipped with modern facilities and state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology. São Paulo has world-class hospitals and clinics and is one of the 47 world centers for technological innovation recognized by the UN.
Most major urban centers in Brazil have at least one private hospital, and there are generally more in popular tourist destinations. However, English-speaking general practitioners, dentists, and opticians are not always readily available, so if English-speaking international students find themselves in an emergency situation in which an English-speaker is not available, it is suggested that they call an international hospital.
Government-funded hospitals and clinics in Brazil offer high-quality medical services, but are often crowded because
they are free. For this reason, waiting times may be longer than they are in private hospitals. The facilities in
government hospitals also may not be quite as good as in private hospitals. They may be lacking in air-conditioning
or certain medical equipment. Foreigners in Brazil are entitled to free medical treatment at government hospitals.
They might also be treated at private hospitals, but must pay for these services. Most of the private hospitals in
Brazil have excellent medical facilities; Brazil is one of the leading medical tourism destinations in South
Those who cannot afford to pay for health care in Brazil use the government’s free public national health system. This system is roughly equal in caliber to the Veterans Administration hospital system in the United States. People who use this system pay nothing for doctors’ fees, lab fees, hospitalization, surgery, or prescription drugs. Though foreigners are covered by this unified health system, the majority of foreign residents in Brazil opt for private health insurance. Though the public health care system in Brazil is good, the private system is generally better, with shorter wait times and better care. As an international student, you might choose to use coverage from back home. Depending on where you live, your current health insurance provider might have participating doctors and hospitals in Brazil. You will want to look into this before embarking on your trip. And no matter what, you can always fall back on Brazilian national health care, so there is no real need to worry.