Colombia’s healthcare system stands out for its wide and stable coverage. Significant regulatory progress has improved service quality, enhancing response times, and creating a globally renowned system. The establishment of healthcare free trade zones, health clusters, and the large number of healthcare providers (IPS, as per their Spanish acronym) result in an attractive local market for new investments to help improve the sector’s competitiveness and development as well as the provision of healthcare services in Colombia.
Why invest in Colombia’s healthcare services sector?
The Colombian healthcare system’s coverage is higher than the global average.
- Colombia has a stable and attractive healthcare system. With a population of 50 million, it is the third most populous country in Latin America (after Mexico and Brazil) and 95% of Colombia’s population are insured under its General Social Security Health System (SGSSS, as per its Spanish acronym). https://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/2020/EN_WHS_2020_Annex2.pdf?ua=1
Colombia’s public spending on healthcare is high compared to the rest of the region.
- Colombia ranks third for highest public spending on healthcare in the region, where 63% of the total expenditure is covered by public funds and the remaining 36% by the private sector. Total health expenditure in 2019 was USD 21.6 billion.
- Health expenditure as a percentage of the GDP will increase from 6% in 2018 to 7.3% by 2028, and expenditure per capita will increase from USD 417 in 2018 to USD 757 in 2026. https://www.fitchsolutions.com/
There are investment opportunities in healthcare services sales.
- Due to the health system’s coverage and the government’s public investment, Colombia’s healthcare sales are above the regional average. According to Euromonitor, sectoral sales were USD 420 per capita in 2019 (higher than in countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru).
- Other health sectors also had significant sales. In 2018, sales of pharmaceutical products reached USD 3.58 billion and sales of medical devices totaled USD 1.139 billion. https://www.portal.euromonitor.com/portal/magazine/homemain
Colombia has qualified medical staff and health infrastructure to meet the demand for healthcare services.
- According to América Economía’s ranking of clinics and hospitals, Colombia is home to 24 of the 50 top hospitals in Latin America. Additionally, Colombia has 47 IPS with high quality assurance certifications. https://clustersalud.americaeconomia.com/gestion-hospitalaria/ranking-de-clinicas-y-hospitales-estos-son-los-mejores-de-latinoamerica-2019
- There are more than 34,000 health-related learning programs in Colombia; 44.4% of these programs are postgraduate specializations, 37.4% are professional undergraduate programs, and 12.2% are technical training programs. The remaining 6% include masters and doctoral degrees. There are around 65,413 physicians, 49,551 nurses, and 27,086 dentists in Colombia. (Ministry of Education, 2020) https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/portal/
- Colombia’s medical and scientific talented professionals provide high-quality healthcare services in several specialties including cardiology, cancer treatment, ophthalmology, and orthopedics.
Colombia is an attractive destination for health services.
- Colombia is globally renowned as one of the most attractive destinations for health tourism, due to its high-quality standards.
- Foreigners who travel to Colombia for medical procedures save an average of 50% to 60% on the cost of the same procedure in their home countries.
- In 2019, healthcare services exports reached USD 63.8 million, up 11% over 2018. In the same year, around 21,000 tourists entered the country for health service-related purposes.
- The Medical Tourism Index, developed by Fetscherin & Stephano and compiled by Ostelea School of Tourism & Hospitality, rates Colombia as one of the top 30 countries for medical tourism in the world and third in Latin America. https://www.hosteltur.com/
- Some of the health services currently provided to foreign patients are: cardiology, bariatric surgery, oncology, reproductive and fertility treatment, eye surgery, aesthetic dental treatment, plastic and reconstructive surgery, comprehensive medical tests, and stem cell studies and procedures.
Investment opportunities for the healthcare services sector:
- Reinforce the healthcare service network, primarily in regions with low coverage. There is an opportunity for health service providers to increase the number of beds available and specialties offered in several regions. Additionally, there is a need to diversify the location of healthcare centers in Colombia.
- Development of high-quality hospital infrastructure and health specialties to provide high value-added services.
- Health-related projects to attract private equity funds and impact funding initiatives.
- Colombia’s health system enables users to acquire additional health plans to complement the services provided by the Health Promotion Entities (EPS, as per their Spanish acronym), which enables international insurance companies to establish themselves in the country and offer their portfolio of services to meet the growing national demand.