Costa Rica has a long history of medical tourism. Patients have traveled to this Latin American oasis since the 1980s and their numbers continue to grow every year. Americans in particular flocked to Costa Rica for low cost dental care. They quickly realized that the world-class physicians and health care facilities could offer much more. Many medical professionals are trained in the United States and other Western nations and most speak English, which make it a draw for patients from the US, UK, and Canada. The quality of care is so good that Costa Rica is known as the “Switzerland of South America.”
In 2008 over 22,000 medical tourists traveled to Costa Rica. By 2011 that number had grown to more than 46,000 in San Jose alone.
All that quality care comes at a fraction of the cost of medical treatments in more developed nations. Depending on the type of procedure or surgery, patients may save as much as 65-90% of the costs they would pay in the UK or the US. The country even offers cheaper medical care than other medical tourism hot spots like Singapore and Thailand. On top of the medical savings, travel to Costa Rica from Europe and the Americas is much, much cheaper than heading to those Asian destinations. The result is that Costa Rica may be the most affordable option for those seeking quality care in cutting edge hospitals and clinics.
The lush environment of Costa Rica is conducive to recovery and rejuvenation. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, it offers stunning beaches for relaxation. On top of that, the country is home to a beautiful rainforest region and awesome mountains. Leisure and recreation opportunities abound as does a vast array of exotic animal and plant life that allow patients to recover in a natural wonderland.
Surgeries in Costa Rica
Dentistry remains a big draw in Costa Rica with some 43% of medical tourists seeking those treatments. European and American patients can save as much as 70% on crowns, implants, dentures and cosmetic dentistry in San Jose. The Meza Clinic is especially popular for the later as it has received American accreditation.
Cosmetic surgery attracts around 10% of foreign patients. Liposuction, rhinoplasty, and tummy tucks are the most popular procedures. Other treatments commonly performed on medical travelers include eye and face lifts, and breast enhancement. Doctors also provide reconstructive surgeries
Many patients travel to Costa Rica for gynecological services, orthopedics, cardiology, bariatrics, and preventative medicine. Popular surgeries include gastric bypass, knee replacement, gastric sleeve, hip replacement, dermatology laser removals, shoulder replacements, and laparoscopic surgery. Costa Rica is also a prime destination for fertility treatments that are prohibitively expensive in the US and has several top addition treatment facilities.
Top Destinations in Costa Rica
By far the most popular destination for medical tourists is San Jose and its suburbs. The metropolitan area houses the best hospitals and clinics in the country, including three hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI): CIMA San Hose, Clinica Biblica, and Clinica Catolica.
A unique feature of many San Jose facilities is the packaging of convalescence care with surgery and major treatments. Patients are able to recuperate in spa resorts that capitalize on the warm climate, healthy air, and exquisite cuisine that attract regular tourists to the city. As their recovery progresses, they are able to enjoy the many cultural and historical attractions in the city or venture to the nearby beaches, mountains, and rainforest on sight-seeing excursions.