Medical Services in Quito
All expats in Ecuador require health care coverage. This coverage can be from private providers the public system or in some cases coverage from your home country e.g. veteran’s from the USA. This article won’t discuss this topic in any detail but will focus on more general things.
Pharmacies - Medicines:
Quito has no lack of pharmacies; if one doesn’t have medicine you need another will. First, the pharmacies operate a little differently here. The majority of medicines are found behind the the counter where the pharmacists/assistants dispense “prescription” medicine. So a lot of medicines that you may be used to taking off the shelf, you will have to ask for them e.g. antihistamines. Also most medicines can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription; and that prescription can be partially filled at different branches if the one you are at doesn’t have the quantity you need. However, the big difference here to most countries is that the medicines are not put in a separate bottle with a label and directions on use as that is normally provided by the doctor. Also it is quite common that medicines that are in strips of “bubbles and aluminum backing” (here they are called “blisters”) are often cut apart to meet the needs of the prescription, or sometimes extras are given as part of a special offer. Those over 65 do qualify for a discount.
Hospitals and doctors:
If you have a local private health care provider, they have a direct network with certain hospitals and pharmacies. If you use a service that is outside of their network, you can fill in forms for a reimbursement.
Most doctors are independent contractors associated with a particular hospital; you pay the doctor’s office or sometimes the admission’s desk where you book appointments. This varies from place to place. Again, if you go to a doctor that does not have an office in the hospital you can file for a reimbursement.
The hospital most often recommended for being able to find an English speaking doctor is Hospital Metropolitano. You do need to specifically request to see someone who speaks English. Normally most appointments are made through the health care provider; do not count on the customer service agent there to speak sufficient English.
If you have an emergency and need to contact the ambulance, again a quick call to your provider and they will send an ambulance that will take you to a facility within their network. Again there is no guarantee that the medical staff on duty speak English but they do make every effort to find someone who can.
If you have a stay in a hospital, the majority if not all providers have an agent located in the hospital who can answer any of your questions (again there may be language challenges). Also, normally, your portion of the bill must be paid (called “cancelar) before you are released from the hospital.
About The Writer:
Koos A. De Beer
"I am a Canadian expat who has been living in different countries since 1987. I came here to Quito, Ecuador in June, 2017. Before that I was teaching Academic English at a university in the Middle East. Here in Quito I keep enjoy sporting activities in Carolina Park, taking photography classes, and reading one of my far too many books (Middle East art, carpets, nutritions, personal development etc). I have only travelled to a few places in Ecuador and plan on doing much more as now my permanent visa is in my hands thanks to the dedicated work of the whole EcuaAssist Team"
“Ask Koos” for those that have non-visa related questions about how life is as an Expat in Quito, leave your comments below.