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Expatriate health insurance in Argentina

Destination Argentina
>Direct access to the best healthcare facilities
>Guaranteed in line with local private rates
>International health coverage
>If you find cheaper elsewhere, refund of twice the difference
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Expatriate health insurance

Global health insurance is essential in Argentina to ensure that you have access to the best private health care facilities and physicians. Argentina's Social Security system is designed to provide universal public health coverage for all residents, including expats, but due to a lack of funds the level of care is very unpredictable.

Summary
Trait

Key figures for health insurance
in Argentina

Key figures for health insurance in Argentina
Health care expenditure per capita €962,50
Annual indexing of health care expenses 42%
CFE hospitalization reimbursement rate 50%
Number of insurance companies providing services 15
Cost of hospital coverage for people 30 years old/year €715
Cost of hospital coverage for people 50 years old/year €1188
Trait

The health care system in Argentina

A recent universal system

The Argentine health care system was reformed in January 2009 to provide access to health care for all residents. Before that, employees took out individual insurance through their unions. This system, which was called “obras sociales,” supported the development of contracted hospitals, and even hospitals under the names of major insurance companies.

Social security was managed at the national level under the supervision of the Ministry of Labor. Unfortunately, when the financial crisis hit the country had to file for suspension of payments several times. This has affected health care funding. The quality of care varies considerably from one region to another, both in the public and private sectors.

Health conditions and precautions to take before departure

Health conditions in Argentina are good overall, with no particular epidemiological phenomena.

It’s still important to take the precaution of protecting yourself from mosquitoes and other insects, but the risk of contracting diseases is low. The greatest risk is yellow fever, followed by dengue fever and malaria.

Vaccination against yellow fever is recommended, especially if you plan to spend time in the regions bordering Paraguay or Brazil.

It is absolutely essential to receive the diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DT-Polio) vaccine before entering Argentina.

Depending on the region, you may also need to find out whether it is safe to drink the water.

It can be difficult for foreigners to obtain health insurance, so we strongly recommended taking out private global health insurance before you leave.

Quality of care in the public and private sectors

In the public sector, the quality of care ranges from average to poor. The current infrastructure is inherited from the previous public system, which was managed by the country’s various unions, which means that quality varies according to region. However, most hospitals will have the necessary facilities to deal with emergencies.

Most physicians receiver their training abroad, and all medical disciplines can be found in both the public and private sectors.

In the private sector, the quality of care is generally good but expensive; medical costs can even be comparable to those in the most expensive developed countries.

Most private facilities are located in major cities like Buenos Aires (German and Spanish hospitals), Mendoza and Cordoba.

Argentina also has an international reputation as a destination for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, with operations performed in private clinics.

Price of local care

Prices vary depending on the health care facility you visit. Health care services are free at public facilities.

Hospitalization costs and the fees for care in the establishments favored by expatriates are very high. If you are unable to present valid proof of insurance (the insurance policies we recommend can be validated on site via a network of local correspondents), you will often be asked to pay in advance or pay a deposit.

Expect a minimum cost of €15 for a consultation with a private general practitioner. For a consultation with a specialist, expect to pay around €55 or more. please note that if you are admitted to the emergency room, you will be referred directly to the appropriate specialist for your condition. Lastly, a physical therapy session costs approximately €20.

In Argentina, dental care meets very high standards. For a cleaning, expect to pay a moderate rate of between €40 and €80. However, a ceramic crown will cost on average between €600 and €900, and dental implants start at €700. Orthodontic procedures can cost up to €1,000.

Dental and vision coverage isn’t necessary if you won’t need such care often.

How to choose a physician

Most medical specialties exist in Argentina (orthodontics, ophthalmology, dermatology, etc.).

In an emergency, you can go to a public establishment. They are well-equipped for that type of situation. Once the emergency is over, you will need to be transferred to an establishment in your local health insurance network, which can be very expensive.

For a routine consultation, if you have local insurance, you will have to see a physician recommended by your insurer. For “obras sociales,” you will need to make an appointment well in advance, since there is always a wait due to staff shortages. With expatriate health insurance, you are free to be seen by the physician of your choice.

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Social security in Argentina

Local coverage

Theoretically, Argentina has a strong social base, but it lacks resources.

Argentina has signed agreements with several other countries. Check to see whether your home country has signed this type of agreement.

The agreement ensures the continuity of coverage, and avoids duplicate payments of contributions. Coverage for each person depends, of course, on their status as a seconded employee, expatriate, and whether they’ve subscribed to the CFE or a local fund.

Employees can be seconded for up to 24 months, and freelancers for up to 12 months.

Beyond the secondment period, the basic principle is to join the social security system of the country in which you are working.

WARNING: Argentine Social Security only covers expenses in the public sector. It will not provide reimbursement for expenses in the private sector.

CFE: French social security for all Europeans

The CFE allows any EU citizen to benefit from social protection similar to the French social security system, providing services for illness, maternity, disability, death and old age.

For health care, the CFE provides zone 2 reimbursements.

CFE coverage alone may be sufficient for routine care (consultations), but in case of hospitalization, examinations or long-term treatment, you will need to have supplementary insurance.

The CFE only covers 50% for hospitalizations, leaving you responsible for the other 50%, and private hospital rates are very high. This rate drops to 40% for laboratory tests, medical imaging and procedures performed by specialists.

These numbers are interesting because they show that, according to CFE reimbursement statistics, local prices for expatriates are at least twice as high as the set rates in France and in many European countries.

You can find more information on this subject in our CFE section.

The organization of health care in Argentina

As stated above, the health care system in Argentina is divided into 3 sectors: public, “obras sociales” and private. But what do the local social security, “obras sociales” and private health care systems cover, and how do they work?

Public coverage:

ANSES provides free access to health care in the public sector, and foreigners can subscribe to it. However, wait times are long, and the services and infrastructure are unpredictable.

Cobertura Univeral de Salud (CUS) or universal healthcare coverage was implemented in 2017. It is supposed to enable everyone to access quality medical care at a lower cost via the services of the Mandatory Medical Program (PMO).
The Mandatory Medical Emergency Program (PMOE) gives all beneficiaries access to medical, hospital, palliative and dental care, medical rehabilitation, prosthetics and medical transportation. Pharmacy services are only covered at 40% (or 70% for chronic conditions).

It should be noted that maternity coverage is free from the beginning of pregnancy through the child's first year (Programa Materno Infantil).

That's the system in theory. In practice, the country is on the verge of suspending payments, its means are very limited and you would be wise not to count on receiving fast, high-quality health care.

The Obras Sociales:

Social funds financed by employees (1.58%) and employers (1.59%) that grant access to fee-based health care insurance. There are around 300 of these insurance funds, and they provide coverage guides that include the addresses of affiliated physicians and other medical facilities. Those with a history of health problems cannot be excluded by these insurances, and they provide the minimum medical coverage. They cover about 50% of the population.

You can subscribe through your employer, or independently if the company you work for is not affiliated. Foreigners are required to have residency status and be legally employment in order to apply for the “obras sociales.”
Again, the level of service provided depends on the level of funding, or in other words, the amount of money contributed by your employer. If the company only pays a few dozen euros per month per employee, don’t expect the medical services to be up to European standards.

The private sector:
The local private health care insurance plans, or Prepagas, do not provide international coverage. Make sure you find out exactly how their coverage works (e.g. coverage limits) and what exclusions are possible. Anyone can subscribe to these private insurance plans, and, like the “obras sociales,” they are required to provide at least the minimum legal benefits.

The quality of care is good. You are given access to private general practitioners (in the public sector you have to go to the hospital to consult a physician). However, the prices are in line with the services provided: Better service = Much higher price.

Price also determines which health care facilities you can go to. Only 5% of the population uses local private insurance.

Trait

Choosing your expatriate health insurance in Argentina

Why should you subscribe?

Private insurance allows you to access services and expertise that meet the international standards you are used to in Europe, for your safety and that of your family. Unlike local private insurance plans, you won’t be limited to using a local network or health care facility. You have the freedom to choose your own physicians and health care facilities. This gives you access to the best diagnostic equipment and treatments.

All insurers now offer efficient online consultation services. You can make an appointment with a general practitioner, or with a specialist who can give you a second medical opinion or guide you through your on-site treatment.

Your expatriate insurance policy will also provide coverage in other countries and in your country of origin during your occasional trips home. It ensures that you’ll at least have a minimum of coverage in case of an emergency abroad.

If you choose to subscribe to the CFE, expat insurance can also function as a supplement. With the CFE’s health care coverage as the initial basis for reimbursement, plus a supplemental expatriate insurance, your reimbursement rates will be similar to the rates that apply in your host country.

Lastly, travel insurance will not work. Many expats think that they can use their travel insurance for a few weeks to avoid spending money on global health insurance. But if anything happens, the insurer will ask you to provide documentation showing your terms of travel, including your return ticket, type of accommodation, and subscription to a public health insurance plan. If they see that you are staying for over 90 days, not just taking a short trip, they will deny coverage.

When and how should you subscribe?

Apply at least 30 days before your departure, since the procedure for taking out expatriate coverage is more complicated than for traditional insurance.

Use our website to compare coverage and get price quotes online.

Then one of our advisors can help you through the whole subscription process.

What kind of coverage should you choose?

If you are on a tight budget, find an insurance that just covers hospitalization, which is the absolute minimum.

Choose a plan with an annual coverage limit of at least 300,000 EUR.

If you can spend a little more on your health care, choose a plan that covers other health care expenses in addition to hospitalization. This can be particularly useful for physicians, pharmacy services and exams.

Will you have to pay up front?

If you have “obras sociales” insurance, you don’t have to pay up front for either the consultation or the purchase of medication (reimbursed at 40%), but you have to go where you are told to go.

If you have local private insurance, you will generally have to pay up front, except for hospitalization. Contact your insurance company to find out how the process works. For hospital stays over 24 hours, the hospital may receive payment directly, depending on the network.

With expatriate health insurance, if you are hospitalized for over 24 hours, your insurer will see to it that the hospital/clinic is paid directly. Regular medical and vision/dental expenses must be paid up front. It’s easy to file a claim. All insurance companies provide online customer support, and sometimes even apps, for managing your reimbursements.
In general, invoices for €1,000 or less can be submitted digitally. Invoices for over €1,000 (which are rare) must be sent by mail.

Repatriation assistance

Given the quality of care provided locally, you shouldn’t need to be repatriated for health reasons as long as you are in a major city. However, assistance can be provided within the country in areas with fewer quality medical facilities, or abroad in case of accident or illness during a trip.

It also provides services that can be qualified as “for your comfort" but are very welcome in case of a serious event: paying for a relative’s trip so they can come to your bedside, organizing child care or transportation, access to medical advice and guidance, a ticket home in the event of the death of a parent, etc.

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