From year 2000 until December 2011, the only viable individual medical insurance policy legally available in Costa Rica was the INS Medical policy offered by – you guessed it – the venerable ex-monopoly, the National Insurance Institute (INS). Now, however, there is another option: Pan American Life Insurance Company, PALIC, which has been legally selling group medical insurance in Costa Rica for the past year, has just announced it has finally been authorized by the Insurance Superintendency to offer an individual medical policy.
INS’s policy is available in two forms: INS Medical Regional, which covers up to $200,000 in medical expenses per person per year; and INS Medical Internacional, which covers up to $2 million. The former policy is fine for people living in Costa Rica, and the latter plan is geared toward those who spend a lot of time abroad.
While in general the INS Medical policy is OK, it has a few negative points:
–It is available only for people up to age 65 residing legally and permanently in Costa Rica.
–Pre-existing conditions are excluded outright and forever.
–Paperwork for applications can be cumbersome.
–Payment of claims is finicky.
–When a person turns 70, INS reduces coverage to $60,000 for the regional plan and to $600,000 for the international plan.
Because of these limitations, other individual medical insurance options have anxiously been awaited; but in the meantime, in anticipation of competition, INS has busily been improving its client service. Now, however, the moment has come in the form of PALIC’s new offering. INS’s response, however, was unexpected: They just raised the premium rates for the INS Medical policy by an average of 80 percent – yes, 80 percent! For people age 50, the regional plan now costs about $1,800 per year, and the international plan costs about $2,100.
INS must feel confident it can make this huge increase because PALIC’s policy is definitely upmarket. It comes in two levels of coverage: the Preferential plan, which affords coverage of $2 million per year and costs (for a person age 50) $3,331; and the Gold plan, affording $5 million coverage per year and costing $6,215.
As you can see, the medical plans offered by PALIC are quite a bit costlier than INS’s, but they may be a good option for some, because other policy conditions are better than INS’s: They will accept applicants up to age 75, whereas INS will not process applications for people over age 65; and there is no requirement in regard to legal residency in Costa Rica.
When we have a track record of how PALIC’s new policies perform, I will hasten to give readers further information.
The opinions and viewpoints expressed are those of the writer. Our purpose is to give the reader a better understanding of insurance in Costa Rica. For more information, contact David Garrett at [email protected]