The Costa Rica health care system is different than its neighbors in that it is considerably advanced in comparison. While not considered a first world country, it has been highly Americanized due to its popularity as a place to retire and vacation and has been infused by these expenditures. It is a very clean country, and the standard of living (which includes ranking the healthcare system) is much higher than its neighboring countries, which also.
Interestingly enough, while the healthcare industry here is much more trustworthy and better than those of surrounding areas, it is still quite affordable, and there are surprising services ready to assist.
For example, in most urban as well as rural areas, medical emergencies are responded to by Red Cross ready transport ambulances that will take you to the hospital at no charge.
There is also an operational 911 telephone system that has been in place for several years as well.
Hospitals have up to date equipment and are technologically sound, even if they do not have the latest devices. Sometimes service is slow due to lack of space or enough equipment, but all patients are cared for in as timely a manner as possible, and true emergencies are dealt with in a rapid fashion. Instruments are sterile, and doctors are well trained, so there is no cause for concern.
There are plenty of pharmacies in the country, and you can find a lot of excellent medications over the counter without worry (you’ll recognize the same things you found at home). However, this is also probably the most expensive part of the system of Costa Rica health care, since many medications are imported from the United States, making them costly.
Be aware that, when growing food in this country, some pesticides and other chemicals are used that are illegal in the United States. This means that you could be at risk due to a lack of previous exposure. In order to guard carefully against ingestion of such chemicals, you should carefully wash all produce before peeling and/or cutting and eating.
The most common ailment usually experienced by expatriates who come to retire in Costa Rica is diarrhea, due mostly to the change in diet and sometimes the ingestion of the local water source, which is clean but different than the source from which they are used to drinking. This is typically not severe and can be easily remedied with over the counter treatments, as well as acclimation to the new cuisine and culture.