How the Medical system works in Brazil

The Brazilian healthcare system known as “Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS)” is a public health system which provides free and universal access to healthcare. All Brazilian nationals can use the SUS although, according to the National Health Agency, 25% of them have private medical insurance. The SUS is a decentralized system managed by Brazilian states and municipalities.

At the same time, the private healthcare system has been strongly developing as a consequence of the public system’s shortcomings (medical staff and equipment, etc.). It is highly recommended to take out complementary healthcare insurance for your medical care in the private sector as you will be provided with a much better quality of service.


Visiting a doctor in Brazil

Brazilian GPs or family doctors provide routine medical care (cold, flu, etc.).

Doctors in large cities such as São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro speak several languages (English, French and Spanish).

The private sector is strongly developing and services are of very high quality; however, medical care can be very expensive. Rates vary from one city to another. For example, in Brasilia, consultation fees cost R$120 (USD 51) on average and can go up to R$500 (USD 214). In São Paulo, consultation fees cost R$300 on average (USD 128) and between R$200 and R$250 in Rio de Janeiro (USD 85 to USD 107).

As there are not enough doctors, it can be difficult to get an appointment quickly.

Brazilian specialist doctors: It is not necessary to see the GP beforehand in order to go to a specialist doctor. You can directly ask for an appointment with a specialist. As there are only a few specialist doctors, waiting times can sometimes be long before being able to get an appointment.

Being admitted to hospital in Brazil

Brazilian hospitals
Medical care is provided free of charge in public hospitals. However, Brazilian public hospitals are overcrowded and waiting rooms are full of people. Certain Brazilian hospitals have their own ambulance service.

An increasing number of Brazilians prefer to turn to private hospitals which use advanced technology and provide high-quality medical equipment. Medical staff are also very efficient.

Medical tourism is famous in Brazil for the quality of its surgeons and high-end medical equipment.

Emergency services are open 24/7 in most hospitals; however, waiting times can be very long, especially in large cities.

In case of emergency: dial 192.


Buying medication in Brazil

Drugs listed in the national list of essential medicines are covered by the SUS. As for drugs which are not covered by the national health system, the “farmacias populares” offer affordable prices.

Source: MSH International