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Is Brazil the top destination for your first post-pandemic trip?
Then you are probably struggling to find answers to these questions: Do I need health insurance to enter Brazil? If yes, what health insurance do I need?
As you may know, Brazil was one of the first countries to lift the COVID-19 travel ban entirely and reopen its borders. It was an unexpected move considering the Coronavirus situation in Brazil.
Regardless, the Brazilian government hasn’t extended the travel ban as many expected and the country reopened its borders for incoming flights on July 29th.
What about a Covid-19 Test to Enter?
Please note that as of January 2021 Health Insurance is no longer required but highly recommended. However, you do need to get a Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours, it must be PCR, they do not accept antigen (aka rapid or abbott tests). Nevertheless travel and or health insurance is highly recommended. Please also note that some cities such as Sao Paolo are currently under curfew with other restrictions present.
Current Health Dangers in Brazil
Before you go to Brazil, here are some things that you need to know first and we’ll begin with the most obvious threat in the country at the current moment. More precisely, the high levels of COVID-19 cases around the country. Until recently, Brazil had the second-largest amount of Coronavirus cases after the U.S. in the entire world.
India was able to claim the second place recently, leaving Brazil in the third position. Still, at the time of writing, the confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Brazil are over 4.2 million.
Clearly, there is a great danger to your health if you travel to Brazil. And even though the U.S. travel advisory lifted the level 4 global travel restrictions not long ago, Brazil still remains one of the countries with the highest levels of COVID-19 related dangers according to the U.S. officials.
Of course, since the international travel restriction is lifted, the “do not travel” statement is only advice and can’t be legally enforced. Having that in mind, every individual is solely responsible for his own decision to travel or not to travel to Brazil.
Yet, if you are determined to go on that dream trip you should at least be aware of Brazil’s healthcare system. To begin with, emergency service at public hospitals in Brazil, even for foreigners, is completely free. What is the problem then?
The quality of public medical services is quite questionable. On the other hand, as in most cases, private healthcare is expensive. That is why you need to have a decent health or travel insurance plan.
But there is another problem as well. Although private hospitals are the place you would typically find English speaking doctors, most private healthcare institutions in Brazil won’t accept foreign insurance policies.
What does that mean? You may have to pay the health treatment costs upfront and seek reimbursement from your health or travel insurance provider after you pay the medical bill.
Another important thing to bear in mind is that COVID-19 isn’t the only health danger in Brazil. For example, there are many tropicals diseases in the country.
Especially if you are planning to visit some natural sights, there is a high chance of infection. Some viruses, like the Zika virus, are transmitted by mosquitos so they are relatively easy to catch.
Also, water sports in Brazil are quite hazardous and you can get hurt. So you might want to get insured against dangerous sports if you are planning to go scuba diving, jet-skiing, or do similar activities.
Last but certainly not least, crime levels in Brazil are high. Very high. In some neighborhoods, you might get your phone stolen while speaking.
Yes, seriously. The best advice is to be careful, but you can still ask your insurer if they can include assault or robbery in your policy.
Brazil Coronavirus Restrictions
Despite having lifted the travel ban, Brazilian officials have imposed certain requirements to let you in the country a few months ago. One of the most important requirements to enter the country was to have sufficient health insurance that covers your entire stay.
However, even though most people already have a pretty good health insurance plan, it probably won’t be enough to cover you in case of an emergency in Brazil. It may not even be accepted by the officials to enter the country in the first place.
What is the main problem? The Brazilian government hasn’t actually specified in the official document (written in Portuguese) the exact type of medical insurance they need to allow you in the country.
Do I Need Health Insurance To Enter Brazil Now? (October 2020 Updates)
There have been a couple of discussions in travel forums recently that Brazil does not require health insurance anymore as mentioned in the country’s official travel website. A lot of travelers have also backed up this claim that health insurance is no longer mandatory
However, if you want to play safe and avoid getting stopped at the airport, we’ll discuss some of the health insurance requirements that you might need. These requirements have been discussed in past travel forums by travelers who actually went to Brazil when stricter travel restrictions were still imposed.
What Health Insurance Should You Get?
There have been people who shared their experiences before in travel forums during the time when the health insurance requirement was still imposed by the government. So for the benefit of everyone, here’s what they had to say regarding the insurance requirements.
Generally, there wasn’t a specific type of insurance policy to enter the country. Different types of policies can pass the muster without any trouble.
Yet, the officials were looking for these 3 specific things present in your insurance policy before they let you in the country:
1. Dates of coverage
Any foreign traveler who enters the country for a short stay (up to 90 days, don’t worry) should have health insurance for the whole period of his stay. From the beginning till the end. So make sure your travel dates match exactly the dates on your insurance policy.
The policies that the officials would accept should be written in either English or Portuguese. The authorities don’t accept other languages and there are no exceptions to this rule. So make sure to ask your provider to translate your policy if it’s written in Spanish let’s say.
That being said it is a good idea to print out the policy and bring it with you. Internet coverage can be quite unstable at airports, especially in Brazil.
3. Amount of coverage
The minimum amount of coverage is 30,000 Brazilian reals or around 5,700 U.S. dollars. We think, needless to say, this won’t be sufficient if anything happens. So buy a policy with higher limits, much higher.
What isn’t mandatory?
Oddly enough, some people reported they were able to successfully pass the airport insurance screening even though their insurance didn’t specifically mention COVID-19 protection, or respectively – their policy didn’t have Coronavirus covered.
Yet, it is best to be protected against COVID-19 if you are traveling at the current moment. We already mentioned multiple times that Brazil is highly contaminated with the disease, so don’t play with the fire.
Unfortunately, as always, you can get misled. For example, IMG say that they cover you against COVID-19, but when you read the fine print you see that they actually don’t cover Corona in countries with travel advisory above level 3 (Brazil is level 4).
So be extremely careful you don’t fall into pitfalls like this. If you are not sure, always make additional research or call the insurer directly.
What Health Insurance Should You Get? (Better Safe Than Never)
At the end of the day, it’s always the best option to be prepared so your safe and secure.
So what are some examples of travel insurance that US citizens and residents should get if they’re traveling to Brazil right now?
Many people rely on their permanent health insurance to cover them in such scenarios. However, this isn’t a good idea in this case because there aren’t any specific dates (remember the dates of coverage requirement) on the policy, and the deductibles on such policies are usually pretty high. Not to mention abroad (if they are valid and accepted abroad at all).
If you are planning to use the insurance from your credit card, just ensure you bring a printed copy of the actual coverage with you. And yes, most travel credit cards do offer emergency medical and dental insurance such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you want to know more about credit cards and get unlimited consultation, you can sign up for our travel concierge. It’s one year of credit card and travel assistance to help you maximize the features of your cards.
However, the best idea in these cases is to buy additional coverage from a health or travel insurance company. Here is a good example.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
It is no coincidence that World Nomads became so popular with frequent travelers.
They didn’t disappoint their fans (including us) once again by providing great travel insurance that doesn’t exclude COVID-19.
For instance, with World Nomads, you can cancel your trip and get reimbursement if you, your traveling companion, or a family member contracts Coronavirus prior to your trip.
If the same happens during your trip, you and your travel companion may be covered for emergency medical expenses, trip interruption coverage, or even medical evacuation (we highly recommend the last one).
You can also get covered if your flight gets delayed with more than 6 hours if there is a border closure or travel ban while you were on the trip.
However, note that World Nomads don’t give you the option to cancel for any reason. As a rule of thumb, before you purchase your travel insurance even with World Nomads, make sure you know exactly what you are covered against, and what you are not.