Same-sex couples in Costa Rica now have equal access to public health insurance, care

November 20, 2014

Costa Ricans who have health insurance coverage with the Social Security System, or Caja, can now cover same-sex partners at any public community health clinic (Ebais) or Caja hospital, the agency announced.

The reforms of Costa Rica’s Social Security Regulations were six months in the making, and also apply to unmarried heterosexual couples who have lived together for at least three years.

The latest changes to the regulations were approved by the Caja’s board of directors on May 22 and were published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta on Nov. 10.

Same-sex couples now have the right to receive medical care at any Ebais, Caja clinic or hospital. They can go to specialists, use ambulances and receive any medical care necessary, including surgery. Same-sex partners also are able to accompany their loved ones if hospitalized, and are authorized to make critical medical decisions on their behalf.

The changes were made to the basic concept of “family benefits,” including the “protection that health insurance provides to individuals who are directly tied to an insured individual, who have a financial dependency, and who meet other requirements defined in the new statute.”

This also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples, children, stepchildren, siblings, parents and other dependents. The definition of “partner” was changed to include “someone who lives with you in a permanent fashion, publicly and exclusively, of either sex.”

To facilitate the process, a registry of cohabitant partners was created on Oct. 9 following the Caja board’s approval.

How do we register?

The process for ensuring that an unmarried partner of either sex enjoys equal benefits is as follows:

  • Visit an Ebais or Caja clinic or hospital and register at the “Registro de Parejas de Convivencia” (Registry of Cohabitant Couples).
  • Present identification for both parties.
  • Fill out a “Beneficio Familiar” (Family Benefits) form.
  • Present proof that you have lived together for at least three years (this can include sworn testimony by third parties, or documentation that you are co-owners of real estate).
  • The Caja will interview and prepare a socioeconomic study to establish your financial codependency.

The process should take no more than 10 days.

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