Costa Rica Medical Tourism: 100,000 Save 60 Percent on Medical Procedures

  • by crv.staff
  • 19.03.09
  • 3:53 PM UTC
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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 | hasselfallas@nacion.com

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. medical-tourism-costa-rica1
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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7 Responses to “Costa Rica Medical Tourism: 100,000 Save 60 Percent on Medical Procedures”

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Lucia
    says:

    I was just at Hacienda Baru and sure, the roads are bad in that part of Costa Rica, but the drivers are also terrible, and a better, faster road will also cause more accidents. What about the coatis that cross the road to the fruit stand at the intersection of the paved road/road to Dominical? Talk to Jack Ewing at the Hacienda and to Isa at the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology. I spent a week at those two places. Tourism is coming, but don’t tear down more forest to do it. Make over passes or underpasses for animals and don’t cut up the forest anymore. I had to snear at the people staying in resorts who only saw toucans because the resort owner had some tame ones. this is very sad. Take it easy, and don’t just look at the land as potential development. I have lived all my life in beautiful Phoenix, which is run by real estate people who have always torn down history and want to develop the areas that attracted people in the first place. Now we have sprawl, worse than ever. Don’t do it to Costa Rica. Environment, sustainability first. Protect what people come to see.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1cynthia
    says:

    I am a nurse practitioner who loves travel. Are there any positions in your organizations that could utilize the skills of and advanced practice nurse with an entreprenurial spirit? I am interested in a position that may be more organizational/assesment that direct patient care.
    Thank you
    Cynthia

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1raulhudson
    says:

    I think the number grow up during the last one year due to the financial crisis. I heard even before, Costa-Rica has got a name at its best in the medical tourism. Because of its cost effectiveness and best services drives more number of foreigners.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Bret G. Dudl
    says:

    If you look at the video Mathijs posted he is standing in front of an eco underpass that the government is finishing BEFORE paving the rest of the highway the commenter wrote about. The eco-friendly Costa Rican government has mandated that the road (that will bring access of medical care, clean drinking water, and goods and services to a quarter million Ticos) will be friendly to the environment and local fauna. They are doing this by building several under passes eco bridges and tunnels, and over passes. The road is already in place and has been so for 40 years, just not paved, so no forest needs to be torn to complete the highway project. This is the best compromise we can available. The Costa Rican government has gone well out of it’s way, especially if you compare it to Phoenix, to put the environment first.

    Thanks for your comments!
    Bret

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Bret G. Dudl
    says:

    @raulhudson We also see Costa Rica expanding as a popular destination for medical tourism. That is supported by the recent coverage of successful medical tourist stories in the NY Times and others.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Bret

  6. Such a great article! I’m so pleased you decided to talk about it.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Bret G. Dudl
    says:

    Thanks Leonida, Let us know what other topics you would like to see. Pura Vida!

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