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back to index backGLOBALtalk June,  2016


Expats: Healthcare in Brazil

Healthcare in Brazil is available at both public and private institutions. Permanent residents are able to get access to free public healthcare at any of the government hospitals.

Healthcare facilities and doctors in Brazil

Public hospitals in Brazil are usually the responsibility of individual state governments, while the federal government oversees general policy. Public medical care, including hospitalisation, doctors’ visits and prescription medicines, is free under Brazil’s Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúdeor SUS).

Public hospitals in Brazil are generally overcrowded and underfunded, whereas the standards of private healthcare are generally high, particularly in metropolitan areas. Thus, even though public healthcare is freely available it is far from ideal, and those who can afford it, including expats, choose to rather make use of private medical facilities.

The range of specialists available in Brazil depends on which city you’re situated in. The larger cities have a variety of practitioners to choose from but fees are also higher, whereas smaller towns are cheaper but there are fewer options.

Brazil is beginning to make its mark as a health tourism destination, particularly in the field of cosmetic surgery. Foreigners have also been travelling to Brazil for dental work.

Medicines and pharmacies in Brazil

There are many pharmacies (farmácia) in Brazil, particularly in the larger cities and towns. Most general and prescription medicines are available at pharmacies and the government continues to invest large amounts in the production of generic drugs to reduce the impact on consumer’s wallets.

Pharmacies are generally open from 08:30-19:00, and some pharmacies in the larger cities are open later or even 24 hours a day.

Health insurance in Brazil

Private healthcare in Brazil has earned the reputation of being the most expensive in Latin America in recent years, and health insurance is therefore vital for expats in Brazil.

Many expats choose to use Unimed health insurance, which is the biggest health plan operator in Brazil and arguably the largest of its kind worldwide. Other large insurance providers used by expats include Bupa, Pacific Prime and Allianz.

Health hazards in Brazil


Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, remains a risk in Brazil, particularly in the tropical regions during the rainy season. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever, and expats should ensure that they take adequate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Emergency services in Brazil

A general public ambulance service is available throughout the country. This is free to all residents and can be contacted on 192.

Most major private hospitals also have their own ambulance services, which can be called directly in the case of an emergency.

Source: ExpatArrivals - GAI




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