Colombia seems to have done health care right. While most of Europe and many countries in Latin America have opted for nationalized health care — and there are, of course, both advantages and disadvantages to such an approach — Colombia has chosen to leave health care almost entirely in the hands of the private sector. And the US might be able to learn a thing or two from Colombia in this context.
First, health care in Colombia is affordable, at least by western standards. A general consultation at the health care chain ProFamilia, for example, costs about $14 US. (Please see price table, below.) This is a meeting with a licensed physician and nurse at a price that is less than most deductibles in the US.
Second, Colombian health care is prompt. One of the criticisms of countries with nationalized health care is that delays exist for many procedures, even for simple initial consultations by a general practitioner. Even in the US, delays in obtaining an appointment with a physician can be extensive. Not so in Colombia, at least for primary care. Most health clinics do not even require appointments. One simply shows up, requests a specific doctor if one has a preference, pays the fee, and waits until his or her name is called 15 to 20 minutes later.
Third, fees for most procedures in Colombia are clearly displayed. Above is a photo of a price list at the ProFamilia clinic near Parque Bolivar in Medellin and the prices are also set forth in the table below. Their reasonableness speaks for itself. While ProFamilia emphasizes family and women’s health issues, they accept all types of patients and I, a middle-aged man, was very satisfied with the service I received for a skin rash.
Finally, health care is simple in Medellin. When visiting a clinic, one simply pays the fee and walks to the waiting room. Only after speaking with a doctor does your medical history come up, and then only as relevant to your particular malady. In the States, it is certain that a skin complaint with a new doctor would have required measuring my height, taking my blood pressure, and answering questions about my great aunt who had lupus
While Colombia does not offer its visitors free health care as do Costa Rica and Panama (at least in the case of emergencies), it does a boast very affordable, very rapid, access to primary care physicians. The quality of treatment appears to be excellent, though we (fortunately) have no experience with the treatment of serious afflictions. In short, if you are visiting Colombia and suffer an illness or an accident, you should not hesitate to take advantage of the excellent healthcare available here at very affordable prices.
(We’ve received several emails inquiring about cosmetic surgery in Colombia. While NickAtNight will be devoting an article to this in the near future, we can say that it is very common here — Medellin is often called the “Silicon Valley” of Colombia because of the great number of surgically enhanced women — and inexpensive compared to the US and even to Costa Rica.)
|Family Planning Consultation||24,000||$13|
|Nutrition and Diet Consultation||22,000||$12|
|General Surgery Consultation||42,000||$23|
|Basic Lab Work||17,000||$ 9|
|Oncology Lab Work||14,000||$ 8|
|Colonoscopy without Biopsy||80,000||$43|
|Colonoscopy with Biopsy||163,000||$88|
|Lletz Cone Biopsy||355,000||$190|
|Cryotherapy (per session)||80,000||$43|
|Spermogram for Fertility||65,000||$35|
|Gynecological Pelvic Ultrasound||49,700||$27|
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