Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Public Healthcare Coverage in Brazil

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


The Brazilian public health system may not be sufficient for all demands, but it provides access to a number of services which sometimes aren't covered by private insurance plans. Learn more about it in this article.

Brazil has a public health system, named SUS or Sistema Único de Saúde, which was created to attend to the whole health demands of the Brazilian population. Almost 30 years after it was established, SUS is still insufficient in many ways, suffering from a lack of doctors, infrastructure and availability of appointments.

Even though the system isn't prepared to deal with the amount of requests for medical treatment of the entire population who can't afford paying for insurance plans, SUS offers a series of services that may not be covered by private health insurance plans.

The system covers things from basic emergency services to complex surgeries, and among its services is treatment for patients with cancer, and plastic surgeries that are for health purposes, even in cases of aesthetics.


There are over 270 hospitals qualified in the treatment of cancer in Brazil, with at least one located in every Brazilian state. SUS provides the diagnosis and the whole cancer treatment, offering services of oncology surgery, clinical oncology, radiotherapy, hematology and pediatric oncology.

Also, in 2013, a law established that the cancer treatment has to start in up to 60 days after the diagnosis is given. This is valid for surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Breast Reconstruction

Women who have the breast totally or partially removed have the right to a breast reconstruction surgery, by either having its costs covered by SUS or by a private health insurance plan.


Pregnant women have access to complete services during the 9 months of pregnancy. They have the right to get appointments, receive vaccines and make exams that help reduce the health problems and diseases that may happen to the mother and the baby.

In the prenatal service, women also have access to information regarding the necessary cares for a healthy pregnancy, as well as instructions for proper nourishment, for the practice of regular physical exercises, and the damages that alcohol and tobacco can bring.


Brazilian Ministry of Health created a calendar with all of the basic vaccines that newborn babies have to take. All of the vaccines mentioned in the basic calendar of vaccines for children are offered by SUS.

More than that, through PNI or Programa Nacional de Imunizações, the national program of immunizations, SUS provides over 300 million vaccines doses every year, including 42 types of immunobiologicals and 25 vaccines. PNI also has vaccination calendars for young people, adults and the elderly, and there are a range of vaccines offered for free, including:

  • Tetra-viral vaccine, against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella - exclusive to children up to 15 months old who have already received a dose of the Triple Viral vaccine.
  • Penta vaccine, which prevents from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine, for people who are up to 49 years old.
  • Inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine.

Plastic Surgeries

SUS only covers repairing plastic surgeries, which may include the aesthetics in case of damaged caused by a disease - like breast reconstruction surgery mentioned above.
Some surgeries which can be done by SUS are:

  • Abdominoplasty
  • Cleft palate
  • Gender reassignment surgery
  • Prominent ears

Domestic Violence

In April 2014, it was established that SUS would also be responsible for attending to victims of sexual violence, providing the diagnosis and the treatment of physical wounds in the genital area and in other affected areas. Repairing surgeries were also included.