El Salvador Healthcare System. Everything you kneed to know!

Healthcare System El Salvador
Hospital El Salvador in San Salvador.

El Salvador healthcare system is distributed into three unique sectors, the public or universal, the social insurance or El Seguro Social, and the private sector. All three Salvadoran healthcare systems have hospitals and clinics; however, the public or universal system is the one used by most Salvadorans.

El Salvador Healthcare System
Public Health Care worker in San Salvador. Photo by Health Minister

The Universal or public healthcare system is by far the most popular. It has hospitals, clinics, and health care centers scattered all over the territory.

The Social Insurance healthcare system or El Seguro Social is the one assigned to public and private employees. These employees pay a monthly insurance fee.

The private sector offers excellent care, and it has good hospitals. However, since it is expensive to use, it serves a small percentage of the Salvadoran population.

El Salvador’s Public Healthcare System

The public healthcare system in El Salvador or Universal health care gives free medical assistance to anyone who needs it. This system has departmental, regional, and specialty hospitals. It also has health care centers in heavily populated areas and clinics for smaller communities.

El Salvador Public Hospitals

The Salvadoran public hospitals are classified as departmental, regional, and specialty. They are all located in densely populated areas.

Departmental Hospitals

The departmental hospitals are located in the capital cities of each department and in areas with high population concentration. Departmental hospitals have greater capacity in terms of specialties, technology, and infrastructure.

Departmental Hospitals
Department City Hospital
Ahuachapan Ahuachapan Hospital Dr. Francisco Menendez
Sonsonate Sonsonate Hospital Dr. Jorge Mazzini Villacorta
Santa Ana Metapan Hospital Dr. Arturo Morales
Santa Ana Chalchuapa Hospital of the city of Chalchuapa
Chalatenango Chalatenango Hospital Dr. Luis Edmundo Vasquez
Chalatenango Nueva Concepcion Hospital of the city of Nueva Concepcion
La Libertad Santa Tecla Hospital San Rafael
San Salvador Zacamil Hospital Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez
San Salvador San Marcos Hospital Dr. José Antonio Saldaña
San Salvador Soyapango General & Psychiatry Hospital Dr. Jose Molina Martínez
San Salvador San Bartolo Hospital Angélica Vidal de Najarro
Cuscatlan Cojutepeque Hospital “Nuestra Señora de Fatima”
Cuscatlan Suchitoto Hospital of Suchitoto
San Vicente San Vicente Hospital Santa Gertrudis
La Paz Zacatecoluca Hospital Santa Teresa
Cabañas Ilobasco Hospital Dr. José Luís Saca
Cabañas Sensuntepeque Hospital “San Jeronimo Emiliani”
Usulutan Jiquilisco Hospital of Jiquilisco
Usulutan Usulutan Hospital San Pedro
Usulutan Santiago de Maria Hospital Dr. Jorge Arturo Mena
San Miguel Ciudad Barrios Hospital Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez
San Miguel Nueva Guadalupe Hospital Nueva Guadalupe
Morazan San Francisco Gotera Hospital Dr. Hector Antonio Hernandez Flores
La Union Santa Rosa de Lima Hospital of Santa Rosa de Lima
La Union La Union Hospital of La Union

Regional Hospitals

The Salvadoran public healthcare system has two regional hospitals, one in the western part of the country in Santa Ana and the other in the Eastern area of El Salvador in San Miguel.

Both regional Hospitals are responsible for the coordination of the hospitals that make up each of the Regions. These hospitals offer a higher level of care and specialty than departmental hospitals.

Regional Hospitals
Department City Hospital
Santa Ana Santa Ana Hospital San Juan de Dios
San Miguel San Miguel Hospital San Juan de Dios

Specialty Hospitals

The National Specialized Hospitals offer high complex services. To receive care in one of these hospitals, the patient must have a referral from one of the departmental or regional hospitals.

Speciality Hospitals
Department City Hospital
San Salvador San Salvador Children’s hospital Benjamín Bloom
San Salvador San Salvador Hospital for Women Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez
San Salvador San Salvador Hospital El Salvador for COVID-19
San Salvador San Salvador Hospital Rosales

El Salvador Public Health Care Centers

El Salvador public health care centers are located in cities or municipalities with large populations. They provide specialized and preventive health services.

These health care centers provide services such as family care, dental, pediatrics, ophthalmology, internal medicine, and others.

In order to use the public health care centers, the patient must first make an appointment and then go from there.

Health care centers are a good concept; however, it has problems. The most significant problem is slow, delayed medical care.

For example, waiting 5 or more hours for a general consultation is normal. Also, since there is a lack of health care professionals for these centers, it is normal to wait for 3 months or more for an appointment.

Health care centers are free and available to anyone; however, be prepared to wait a long time to get your initial appointment.

Community Public Clinics

Community clinics are the last part of the El Salvador healthcare system. These free clinics are located in smaller communities and some in rural areas.

Community clinics offer the most basic health care services. Some of these clinics are only open a few days per week.

Hospital Rosales
Hospital Rosales in San Salvador.

Is Public healthcare in El Salvador good?

El Salvador’s public healthcare system is considered poor. Even though the health care system has many hospitals, clinics, and care centers, the quality of healthcare they provide is deemed inadequate.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on El Salvador’s healthcare system flaws and inadequate facilities.

Since then, the Nayib Bukele administration has made improvements; they have upgraded the infrastructures and provided newer equipment. However, still not good enough.

Many of these facilities have inadequate medical equipment, are almost always understaffed, and often run out of medicine.

The public hospitals, health care centers, and clinics are managed and regulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare or MINSAL.

The Social Insurance Healthcare System or El Seguro Social

The Social Insurance Healthcare System or El Seguro Social serves all public and private employees and their families who are members.

This health care sector is part of the government; however, it works and operates as a separate entity from the public health care sector.

To receive care at one of their facilities, the person must be a member. To become a member, the person must be a public sector employee or work for a private company that operates formally.

Businesses that operate informally do not offer this insurance benefit to their employees. About 70 percent of jobs in El Salvador are in the informal market.

The insured person can add family members to his insurance plans, such as wife or husband and underage kids.

This insurance is mandatory for any employee that works for a private business that is properly registered. It is also obligatory for all public employees.

The monthly fee paid to be a member of the social insurance health system is paid by the employee and the employer.

The employee is responsible for a smaller percentage of the monthly fee, and the employer pays the remaining balance.

This healthcare system has hospitals and clinics, most of which are in the San Salvador metropolitan area. It also has smaller clinics or health centers in heavily populated areas outside of San Salvador.

Private Healthcare System in El Salvador

El Salvador’s private healthcare system has hospitals and clinics located in the larger cities, such as San Salvador metropolitan area, San Miguel, and Santa Ana.

It is believed that this sector has hospitals with better equipment and offers better services. However, these facilities are expensive and mainly used by wealthy people or those with insurance.

The private system is there for anyone that can pay for their services. This system is also available through insurance policies.

Most Salvadorans can’t afford these private facilities; therefore, they use the public healthcare system.

El Salvador Healthcare System
House-to-house COVID-19 Vaccination. Photo by Mnistero de Salud

El Salvador Hhealthcare System

Over the last 30 plus years, the El Salvador healthcare system has been considered poor, mainly in the public sector.

If given a choice, most Salvadorans would prefer the private sector; however, because of the cost, most people opt for the public system.