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Costa Rica Committed to Medical Tourism

Costa Rica News – Last year over 48,000 people entered Costa Rica on what are being called “medical vacations.” With the skyrocketing prices for medical care in the USA and now the implementation of the flawed Obamacare, this number is expected to increase ever more. 

Clinica dental - Dr Munoz CavalliniCosta Rica is strengthening its commitment to the medical tourism and dental tourism sector, which last year generated $ 338 million in revenue for the country.

That figure is higher than the $300 million generated  in 2011 and seems to be continuing to increase.

The commitment is such that the ICT and the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (Promed) set the goal of increasing the number of these tourists to 100,000 and generating $800 million.

The two companies will be presenting at the Fourth International Congress of Medical Tourism which will be held from the 24th to 26th April at the Marriott Hotel Los Suenos, Playa Herradura, Puntarenas. Promed is the organizer of this international event.

The event is considered essential in promoting medical tourism and the achievement of the goals set by the industry.

The ICT said yesterday that the increased demand for these services was 42% in the field of dentistry (dental implants and other procedures), followed by orthopedics and gynecology at 22%, preventive medicine (16%) and plastic surgery (10%).

The ICT estimates that, currently, this specialty generates about 20,000 jobs, and that the average spending of each tourist is $ 7,000.

Most of those who come in search of these treatments come from the United States and Canada.

Organizers detailed that 15 countries and 250 companies from the medical and tourism sectors will participate in the Medical Travel International Business Summit, which will promote Costa Rica and Latin America as leading destinations for health care and dental care.

The summit aims to develop medical tourism in new segments such as transplants, regenerative therapies in orthopedics, jaw implants and wellness programs.

Another goal is to diversify the source of tourists. United States ranks first in visitation, but Congress is expected to open opportunities in European and Canadian markets.


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  1. Joe de Tambor said:

    I am both encouraged by this article and worried by it, too. I am encouraged that if all attempts to increase medical visits to C.R. are even moderately successful, that will provide more jobs and income for los costarricenses. I am worried that the necessary increase in medical professionals to provide all the increased medical services will not be met by existing professionals even though at present it seems there is a surplus of some medical professionals in C.R. I am also worried that the educational system in C.R. will not be able to increase the number of medical professionals, at all levels, to adequately handle future needs of medical vacationers AND the medical needs of los costarricenses.

    I hope those who are planning the growth of medical services in C.R., both at the political and at the professional level, will learn from what some call “Obamacare” that currently is the law in the U.S.A. It is interesting that the creation of Obamacare is actually an attempt to bring medical coverage to more U.S.A. citizens, much like that which is already offerred in C.R. One of the first problems to the implementation under Obamacare regulations is that extending medical care to those who have not previously been able to have it will stress the medical professionals currently practicing in the U.S.A. In other words, there are not currently enough doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to adequately serve the increase in newly covered U.S. citizens. And, it does not seem that the educational system in the U.S.A. as it is currently configured, will be able to produce enough medical professionals in the near or distant future to meet the increased need.

    So, my message to C.R. is to be careful for what you wish for. In addition to plans for increasing the number of medical vacationers, be sure you are also planning on how you will provide good service to medical tourists AND continue to provide good and adequate services for todos los costarricenses.

    • admin said:

      The reason people are flying to Costa Rica, and Mexico, and the Philippians is because they want to get their dental procedures and medical procedures done at a fraction of the cost that it is in the USA. Most of this procedures, especially for dental tourism are not covered by Obamacare. For example if you want a full mouth restoration in the USA it is going to cost you about $50,000 of your own money and is not considered “necessary” by Obamacare or other governmental insurance coverage. Why wouldn’t you come to Costa Rica or another dental tourism destination, pay $15,000 for the same procedure by a dentist usually trained in the USA, spend $5000 on an incredible vacation, and still have $30,000 you saved?

  2. Joe de Tambor said:

    I fully agree with Admin’s comment as it relates to “dental tourism.” Obamacare was never intended to cover cosmetic dental procedures, nor even basic *drill & fill* the tooth decay holes. I only made my “worried” comments as the article states “Costa Rica is strengthening its commitment to the medical tourism and dental tourism sector.”

    I have even thought about getting dental procedures done in C.R. but the times I have been in C.R. other personal business was too time consuming. I have the *fast paced and efficient* C.R. bureaucracy and the equally fast paced building contractors of C.R. to thank for occupying most of my time while I was in country.

    However, I definitely have second thoughts about the “medical” part of this issue. Saving money is one thing, but it is not worth it if how you save money increases physical risk. There are two major things that get in the way of me traveling to C.R. to get something like a necessary surgery or treatment of some severe illness.

    First, I have on-going expenses in the U.S.A. keeping my primary residence, including mortgage payment, property taxes and general up-keep of the property in my absence. I have had enough experience in C.R. with the availability of *temporary* rentals and the cost of what I consider adequate housing to know that the amount of savings in any medical process would in no way overcome the cost of living in C.R. for a temporary period of time as a non-resident. What I would consider to be a proper length of time to recuperate from surgery or to ensure that a treatment was working and no follow-up trips to a C.R. doctor were necessary would be at least several months. Sorry, but I think it would be a very bad decision on my part to *vacation* in C.R. for a short time and stay the minimum recovery time for a surgery or a treatment of an illness and then return to the U.S.A. What if a follow-up were necessary…then I’d have to travel back to C.R.? That would be added expense and, more importantly, not the *immediate* care that I would want if a follow-up were necessary.

    Those who are reading this comment may be thinking at this time; why am I not applying for C.R. residency so that post-op or a treatment period will not be an issue as I would then only have the need for one residence? That brings me to my second major concern. The more I read about the difficulties to obtaining residency in C.R. as compared with other Central American and South American countries, the more I am discouraged from making an attempt to become a legal resident of C.R. And then there are some of the new roadblocks to just living in C.R. as an ex-pat, like the one year I would have to wait before I could legally drive. I would not want to rely on bus travel if I were post-op or ill and using taxis is not inexpensive if that is the primary transportation.

    And, even forgetting about all this medical discussion, I am saddened by the conclusion I have come to about the residency process because I had many reasons for wanting to become a resident in C.R., including to be close to a part of my family.

    I’m sure I’ll continue to do regular vacations to C.R. so maybe some time I’ll have a chance to take advantage of the *dental* tourism part of health care. Our teeth certainly do not get better as we age!

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