Medical Tourism In Costa Rica: What’s It All About?

Medical Tourism In Costa Rica
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The health care system in the US cause many a misery as skyrocketing medical costs and problematic insurance policies leave the average person simply fearful of the next time they’ll get sick. It’s hard to swallow the fact that a growing number of people are leaving the country with some of the best-trained doctors and nurses in search of quality medical care they can actually afford.


But until the US can get the absurdly expensive medical care problem under control, we will have to look elsewhere. Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing number of nations, particularly in South America and Asia, where high-quality medical care can be attained at a mere fraction of the costs in the US and Canada.


Let’s travel to a tiny country in Central America, most commonly known for its intense biodiversity, lush jungles, and tropical beaches…


Costa Rica: yes, you can now get a killer deal on dental work in between lounging around on blissfully pristine beaches and soaring through the jungle canopies on a zipline. The world’s not all that unfair. 😉

Medical Tourism In Costa Rica: What’s It All About?


09 Punkt opatrunkowy / Medical care point
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Photo via Kris Duda


What Is Medical Tourism?

Medical Tourism, as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica, is, “international travel for the purpose of receiving medical care.” Be it dental, surgical, cosmetic… you name it, people are traveling by the thousands across borders to receive affordable medical attention.


The majority of medical tourists must be pretty content with their experience because word of mouth is spreading like wildfire. In fact, according to The CDC, it’s estimated that up to 750,000 US residents travel abroad for care each year. And that’s just the US alone. More than 52,000 Canadians travel abroad for medical care each year, as well.


As more and more people boast about the benefits of medical tourism, it’s important to pause and take note of this recent buzz. You may be wondering, “Is it safe?” “Is it worth the travel expenses?” Or,” What type of procedures can be done?”


Let’s take a closer look at Medical Tourism, specifically in Costa Rica:


If you are interested in learning more of the nitty-gritty statistics and facts concerning the US medical system compared to that of other countries, take a look at this comprehensive analysis from Commonwealth Fund.


Why Costa Rica For Medical Tourism?


San Ramon Church
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The appeal of proximity to the US and Canada may draw people to Costa Rica initially, but the sheer quality and affordability keeps them coming. Around 40,000 medical tourists visited Costa Rica in 2011, and the numbers have only increased since. The draw to Costa Rica for medical tourism really boils down to three key factors: convenience, cost, and quality.


-Central America is close to the US and Canada–making travel a breeze.
-Citizens of the US and Canada can enter Costa Rica visa-free, so long as they have a valid passport.
-With the surge of general tourism in Costa Rica, nearly all the same amenities from back home can be easily accessed.
-The crime rate in Costa Rica is remarkably low. Not only is Costa Rica safe, but it’s just plain happy. Costa Ricans are warm and welcoming, and always ready to help you out.
-Let’s not forget, this is paradise, after all! Who wouldn’t want to recover from a medical procedure on shores of bliss?



Just to give you an idea on exactly how much you’ll be saving, take a look at this chart from Anywhere Costa Rica.


cost comparison medical tourism in costa rica
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On average, medical tourists save by at least half by choosing Costa Rica for medical care. Even if you factor in all of the additional costs for travel and accommodation, you’re likely to still be saving money overall.



The best part? You’re spending significantly less for medical care without compromising on quality. Medical workers in Costa Rica are just as qualified, if not more ;-), than medical workers in the US and Canada. In fact, many of them were even trained in these countries before returning to their homes in Costa Rica to practice.


As Patients Beyond Border’s notes, “The World Health Organization has ranked Costa Rica as one of the top three healthcare systems in Latin America, and the nation consistently ranks higher in healthcare than many of its industrialized counterparts including Canada and the United States.”


Is Medical Tourism In Costa Rica Safe?

As is with all medical treatments, precautionary measures and research must take place before making any decisions. Here are a few points you may want to consider before choosing a specific practice abroad:


1) The Country: As standards of medical care can vary dramatically between countries, it’s important to take note of what is considered acceptable forms of practice in the specific country you are researching. For example, what one country considers hygienic could be considered outright unacceptable in another country. What kind of certifications or licenses are needed to perform the procedure you’re interested in? What is the overall reputation of the country’s medical system? What are the necessary educational/training qualifications for the specific procedure you’re considering?


2. The Practice: Make sure you find a practice that is known to be trustworthy. Even in a country with spectacular medical care, it’s possible to find a couple quacks mixed in the bunch. Make sure the practice you choose has all of the necessary certifications and is well known, and established. There are tons of services that can verify the authenticity of doctors abroad. Consider using a specialized search engine, like this one that helps locate quality dentists.


3. The Medical Professional: Just like the practice, you want to make sure you find a reliable, well-known medical professional that has all of the certifications and licenses needed to properly perform your specific procedure.


Medical tourism, just like everything else, comes with its risks. You can find less-than-ideal medical professionals abroad, just like you can find less-than-ideal medical professionals in your home country. Take precaution, as with all things. The vast majority of medical tourists, however, find their experience above satisfactory, with medical professionals and clinics that are just as professional and safe as their home country.


Medical tourism may not be for everybody, but for some, it’s a ray of hope in a rather dim medical system. Take a look at your specific situation, do a little research, and weigh out the pros and cons. Depending on your situation, medical tourism may be just what the doctored ordered. 😉


Have you ever sought medical care in a foreign country? Share your experience in the comments below!


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