Information for patients
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the main provider of health services, principally through the Medicaid program. The program operates within a publicly-owned and centrally administered health care delivery system. The Puerto Rico Medicaid program is financed through local and Federal funds. A distinguishing characteristic of the Medicaid program in Puerto Rico is that its benefits are available exclusively through the Public Health System. Covered services must be rendered by physicians and dentists employed either by the Commonwealth or a municipality.
Primary services in Puerto Rico are defined as those provided in the health care centers. Each municipality has a health care center. These health centers are the entry points to the public health care system. They provide primary ambulatory services, including X-ray and drug services.
Rural health centers contain a small hospital unit with fewer than 25 beds for emergency purposes. Secondary and tertiary care include outpatient and inpatient services in four specialties: (1) internal medicine, (2) pediatrics, (3) obstetrics-gynecology, and (4) surgery. The three regional medical centers located in Ponce, Mayaguez, and Rio Piedras offer highly specialized services.
The public health care system (including Medicaid) does not provide long-term care services.
Approximately half of the population receives medical care from private sector providers. Most private facilities and private physicians are concentrated in the Metropolitan areas (San Juan, Ponce and Mayaguez).
Information for healthcare professionals
Medical education and residency in Puerto Rico are equivalent to the one in U.S. After the residency program doctors are licensable in any state and would qualify for board certification.
Fluency in Spanish is required to practice the profession in Puerto Rico
Information for travellers
Healthcare in Puerto Rico is of a good standard, but conditions do vary throughout the island. The standard of healthcare is similar to what one would expect in the US, but some areas are better equipped than others. Hurricane Maria caused important damages to the healthcare infrastructure and the country is yet recovering.
In a medical emergency, call 911. Many operators will speak Spanish when answering a call but transfer to an English speaker is usually possible. Ambulances are run by private companies and require payment upfront. Health insurance may cover this but it is advisable to confirm this ahead of time in case there is a future emergency.
Link to Ministry of Health: http://salud.gov.pr