The healthcare and medical sector in Brazil

In Latin America, Brazil is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies. The country has been exhibiting positive growth in various aspects of its economy from consumption spending, government spending to investments. Among all the successful markets in the country is the healthcare market which accounts for about 9.7% of total GDP. Although the yearly health expenses per capita in the country is still low, more than BRL 470 billion is spent on health care. This figure is at par with the European countries in this regard.

The Brazilian government provides universal healthcare free of cost to more than 200 million citizens through its SUS-Unified Health System. Based on the 2014 figures, the government’s share of the total health expenditures accounts for 47% whereas the private sector took care of 53%.

Hospitals in Brazil

Medical establishments or hospitals are heavily concentrated in the South Eastern and Southern part of the country. Sao Paulo has the most hospitals.

The public hospitals in the country are managed at the federal, state and municipal levels. At the federal level, it is characterized by general hospitals while the state governments manage specialist hospitals. The municipal government also handles general hospitals, about 1685 of them.

In Brazil, private hospitals are largely benevolent in nature. In return for allotting at least 60% of hospital beds to SUS patients, the government grants these hospitals tax exemptions.

The different categories of hospitals in Brazil include:

  • General Hospitals
  • Day Hospitals
  • Research/University Hospitals
  • Day Hospitals

Foreign ownership

Recent policies opened up the healthcare system to foreign ownership of clinics and hospitals as per Article 199 of the Federal State Constitution. Federal Law no. 13.097 amended the previous federal law to open up more areas to allow foreign capital. This enables foreign investors who want to enter the healthcare industry, to inject more capital inflow and undertake easy transfer of technology to develop and further modernize the healthcare facilities of the country.

Healthcare products

When it comes to healthcare products, Brazil imports most of its requirements from other countries. In 2014, the country imported about USD 10 billion worth of medical of products. These are the items that Brazil is currently importing:

  • Ultrasonic scanning equipment
  • Cannulae, catheters and probes
  • Orthopedic appliances
  • MRI apparatus
  • Stents

Though the Brazilian healthcare market may seem slightly complicated, the country data presents numerous business opportunities.

There will be an increase in future investments in the industry with the government providing legislative measures to open up clinics and hospitals for foreign investments. Interested investors need to be aware of the local challenges which can be done with the help of professional services. Some of these issues include high production costs, challenging bureaucracy, complex tax procedures and effects of the prevalent economic crisis.

This entry in America was updated on 20 May 2021 by specialist.