Part 5: Choosing Insurance When Giving Birth in Brazil

A look inside one of the suites at Hospital Ilha, Florianópolis

A look inside one of the suites at Hospital Ilha, Florianópolis

So you’re considering having a baby in Brazil (or having one) and wondering what your insurance options are.

  • Will travel insurance cover any of your birth? 
  • What about Brazilian health insurance? 
  • Are you covered if you give birth in a public hospital?

Today, your questions will be answered and you will walk away a very informed person.

This is Part 5 of the Giving Birth in Brazil Series, you can see the other parts at the main page.

Let’s get to those three above areas and let you know what your options are.

Travel Insurance Coverage When Giving Birth in Brazil

The easiest and most hassle free option would be Travel Insurance – right?

Yes and no…

Travel insurance should be understood as “emergency” coverage, and since a pregnancy is planned and considered natural, it wont be completely covered.

If you are currently pregnant and have no Brazilian insurance, this is a great option for general coverage.

The 28 week rule + what’s covered

As a rule of thumb, most all travel insurance companies will cover a pregnant woman until 28 weeks into their pregnancy.

Here is what they’ll cover:

  • Emergencies that aren’t known before insuring the person
  • Public liability
  • Lost luggage
  • Cancellation
  • Any extras you choose when purchasing

So let’s say that you have an “unnatural” complication during the pregnancy at 24 weeks and need to go to a private hospital.

Well that would be considered an emergency and would be covered.

Choosing Travel Insurance

When we travelled to Brazil during my wife’s pregnancy, we took out a standard travel insurance plan with good coverage.

After doing some research we figured out that a reputable company was the best way to go, as it’s much easier to get them to comply when something actually happens.

Moreover, because the public health system is not something you want to count on if something were to happen…

I would recommend going with a good and reputable discount broker like World Nomads (affiliate link)

Why World Nomads?  All the big name travel companies like Lonely Planet use them and World Nomads shops around to find good underwriters at great prices.

It’s actually cheaper to buy through World Nomads then going through the company that underwrites the plan (I checked).

Brazilian Insurance – Pregnancy and Birth Coverage

Brazilian Health Insurance (Plano de Saúde) is in a lot of ways similar to American Health Insurance.

You find a good and reputable company (unless your job provides it), choose a good plan, and pay per month.

Here are the types of Brazilian Health Insurances offered:

  • Company plans
  • Collective plans
  • Hospital direct plans
  • Private plans

Basically you get a “plano de saúde” through a company you work for, a collective of people who purchase together, through the hospital directly (in which case, all treatment must be done there) or privately through an insurance company.

When choosing a Brazilian health insurance plan, make sure and check the company with (i.e. pro consumer, Brazil’s BBB) to see what kind of record they have.

I will do a better write-up of how to choose a Brazilian health insurance plan in the near future.  But expect to pay between R$50-300 per person (depending on the plan) per month.

There are a lot of companies out there but a good intermediate priced co-op one would be (for example).

How your pregnancy and birth is covered under a Health Insurance Plan

If you are already pregnant, then basically no Brazilian health insurance plan will cover your pregnancy unless you are employed in Brazil.

You will only get the normal coverage as per the terms you agreed to.

BUT if you are planning on being pregnant, then read further…

The first and most important thing to remember when looking for a plan can be boiled down to a simple word “carência”.

In this instance, it can be defined as a probationary period until coverage sets in.

Each plan has different rules about “carência” but the general rule of thumb is that you need to be covered by an insurance plan for at least 10 months BEFORE getting pregnant – otherwise your pregnancy and delivery will not be covered.

Though with that said, there are some corporate plans that have no “carência” period.  So if you get a job (or your significant other) at a corporation offering health insurance (convenio medico), then you are usually covered from the moment of inclusion into the plan.

FYI: if you are covered by Brazilian health insurance, the baby will be covered under the mother’s plan until 30 days after birth – in which case you’ll have to get a separate plan for the baby.

FYI 2: you’ll need a CPF to get a health plan, see my guide here.

Coverage in Public Hospitals

I’m going to be honest and warn against giving birth on SUS (Sistema Única de Saúde) – the public healthcare system.

Though in some cases where there is financial trouble or you know the doctor and hospital facilities, then it’s a viable option.

The SUS system is universal, meaning that it is offered by the government for the politicians to get a cut of it’s revenues for everyone’s coverage.

But it can be a bit of a grey area on rules.  I’ve had some say that they won’t treat foreigners and others say that they will.

Technically, foreigners who aren’t in Brazil on a permanent basis are only entitled to unforeseen Emergencies.  What “emergency” means is basically up to the individual hospital to decide.

Though when my wife and I originally came to Brazil to give birth (and assure us residence), we were on a tourist visa.  And while on that tourist visa, we did some hospital shopping.

One of the hospitals we took was known to be pretty good and so we met with the nurses.  They could care less about our visa status and had no issue showing us around, talking about the pregnancy and helping us plan for it.

We ended up going with a home birthing clinic, but that particular public hospital was our backup plan and probably the only public one I’d recommend.

Again, I think it’s more of a “who you know” type thing.

NOTE: about 50% of the time, you will be required to present a proof of address before you can be treated.  This can be done by showing a bill you’ve paid or a hand written letter by your landlord (notarized) that has your address on it.

Final words

It’s tough to cover every aspect of health insurance while you’re pregnant in Brazil but my hope is that you feel informed enough to be able to take the next step in your planning.

Make sure and share/give a thumbs up if this post was helpful 🙂

If you still have questions about giving birth in Brazil, this is a very handy list of to take a look at.

If you reach the end of this guide and you feel like you’d like some hands-on help,  please complete this enquiry form and I’ll get back to you with a package that’s tailored to suit your needs. With the help of my team, I offer a range of services at reasonable prices that will take the stress and confusion out of your move, leaving you to focus on the important things, like giving birth and planning your family’s new and exciting future in Brazil! 

Cheers – valeu!


Posts from the Giving Birth in Brazil series:

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  • We are american, pregnant and moving to Florianopolis – can you make specific recommendations of hospital and home birth options in Floripa?

    • Hey Frances!

      Cool to hear and welcome!! Absolutely, there is HU+ in Trindade (public – free), Ilha Hospital (private good) and home birthing-wise Hanami (ask for Joyce).

      Those are the three I recommend depending on what you prefer.

      If you would like info for my contacts, then just shoot me an e-mail by either clicking on “contact me” above in the menu bar or kevin (at)

      Have you been to Brazil before?

  • hi Kevin, thanks a lot for such a Precious information. my wife and i plane to move to brazil and have our baby there. i read all the steps you explain. how could we have SUS card?! as i know we should have that for using public hospital for free. is it right?

    I’m so appreciated if you can help me about it.

  • hello admin
    I really appriciate for your answers
    I want to know is there any insurance to cover cost of giving child for tourist in brazil?

  • Hello admin
    I really appreciate for your answers.
    I decided to travel to Brazil as a tourist and I am pregnancy. I want to know is there any insurance to cover cost of giving child?

    • Hi there, unfortunately if you are not Brazilian you cannot be covered by any Brazilian insurance policies. You should explore medical insurance or travel insurance policies in your home country. If you give birth in a public hospital in Brazil, there are no fees to pay. However public hospitals do not offer pain relief for natural birth and quality of health care varies wildly from hospital to hospital. You’ll need to do your research.

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