Private vs. Public Clinics in Costa Rica

Not everything is always perfect. Although our trip to Cahuita was definitely up there in the high ranks, my son chose the most inopportune time to get sick.

On the way over to Cahuita in the car he started coughing a bit. I figured it would go away in time for him to enjoy the beach. It didn’t. On the contrary, it only got worse and worse until he was burning up and waking up in the middle of the night crying from a soar throat.

Not wanting to wait until we got back, I decided to find a private clinic. I’ve lived in Costa Rica for almost six years, and have been told on numerous occasions about the horrors that go on in public city hospitals. So, I have never gone that route before and have only been to private doctors and private hospitals, which, by the way, are fantastic.

So, after running around looking for a private solution, I had to accept the fact that they were all closed and resigned to take my son to the public clinic.

The clinic was about 15 minutes from Cahuita and was squeaky clean. They requested my paperwork, but since I’m not a resident and had no formal documentation, I was treated like a tourist. And luckily that meant we were able to see the next available doctor.

Our experience couldn’t have been better. The doctor was fluent in English, amazing with kids, and he was extremely professional. We were so impressed that my father literally wanted to kiss him. He gave us a prescription to take to the clinic’s pharmacy.

When we asked how much we needed to pay, he answered, “The pleasure is all ours.”

Great medical service and medication for free? Being citizens of the United States, you can understand our surprise and absolute gratefulness for their generosity. After this lovely experience, I have completely rethought my theory about their public health system.

Bottom line, if you do get sick know that you are in good hands!

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About Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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