Costa Rica Medical Tourism: 100,000 Save 60 Percent on Medical Procedures
- by crv.staff
- 3:53 PM UTC
I was extremely encouraged to learn that over 100,000 foreigners, mainly Americans, come to visit Costa Rica for Medical Tourism every year. Accompanied by my the medical director from my wellness center, La Joya Perfecta, I personally toured Clinica Biblica, and CIMA, the two largest hospitals in Costa Rica with international accreditation. What I discovered is that these hospitals were as nice, if not nicer, than any hospital I’ve ever been to in the US.
We translated the following article recently published by our friends at La Nacion. Reported by Hassel Fallas | firstname.lastname@example.org
Costa Rica is the choice of 100,000 foreigners that come each year to have surgeries or receive medical treatment in private hospitals.
That figure, published by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, was the reason the Costa Rican government has declared medical tourism in the national interest.
The decree was signed by: Jorge Woodbridge, the Minister of Competitiveness, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Minister of Tourism, Marco Vinicio Ruiz, Minister of Foreign Trade, and María Luisa Ávila, Heath Minister.
The majority of foreign patients come from the United States and spends between $4000 and $6000. Most of those are plastic surgeries and dental or heart procedures.
Visitors pay one-third what they pay in the US for “excellent services,” according to Jorge Cortés, president of the Association to Promote Costa Rican Medicine (Promed).
Promed is composed of six medical consortiums, three hospitals (Cima, Bíblica and La Católica), hotels and universities.
“This is a good sign that the Cost Rican government is looking to this as an excellent opportunity”, says Hernán Campos, vice-president of the Costa Rican Medical Consortium.
According to a study by the Deloitte firm, $60 billion is generated annually by medical tourism worldwide, and it’s predicted that by 2010 that number will rise to $100 billion.
Photo by Alonso Tenorio.
With Insurance Companies. Cortés confirms that local hospitals are a good option for US insurance companies that send their patients for quality healthcare that at the same time, saves them money.
Cortés adds that, so far, four major insurance companies have signed agreements with private hospitals and that the number of patients referred by these companies has increased.
“For example, ten years ago, 10% of Clínica Bíblica’s patients per year were foreigners. Today they comprise 17%, or 25,000, foreign patients per year, says Cortés, who is also the medical director of said hospital.
Benavides confirms that the insurance companies play the role of wholesalers in the tourism industry, “…they channel large numbers of people and are a powerful source” of visitors.
Ruiz adds that another attractive niche group is the 40 million US citizens that are uninsured. They are looking for world-class medical care at a reduced price.
Dr. Christian Rivera, president of the Medical Consortium of Costa Rica, commented that because of the quality of medical care that Costa Rica provides, the country can also offer more complex treatments that raise the average cost per medical tourist to Costa Rica.
Christopher Castro treats tourist James Brown at the Hospital La Católica.
Promoting the sector: World-class medical destination
The Executive Branch yesterday promised to promote growth in the medical tourism industry by signing a decree that will benefit sector businesses via international promotional campaigns and with the establishment of standards to certify medical care inside as well as outside of Costa Rica. COMEX (Ministry of Foreign Trade) and ICT (Costa Rican Institute of Tourism) will take care of attracting more medical tourism investors and foreign patients.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Competitiveness will promote international accreditation of hospitals and clinics, and the Ministry of Health will oversee the quality of service. “This is a way to help the medical tourism sector grow in a serious and orderly fashion”, says Dr. Eloy Mora, director of Safer Medical Group.
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