The medical tourism boom has taken over the world by storm in the past decade. Millions of travelers, due to limited choices in their own land, make international trips every year for low-cost, quality medical services.
Costa Rica, a small country with a strong healthcare system, has emerged as one of the top nations preferred by medical tourists. In the 2020-2021 Medical Tourism Index—which surveyed over 3,000 Americans—the country ranked seventh, behind Canada, Singapore, Japan, Spain, UK, and Dubai.
The Central American nation annually attracts close to 20,000 medical tourists. A World Health Organization survey placed Costa Rica first in Latin America for healthcare, and 36th in the world. There are a few factors that make the country an attractive choice to those seeking health treatments internationally.
Costa Rica’s location is one of its main appeals for US and Canada nationals seeking to get medical procedures done abroad. Main cities in both these countries have frequent flights to Costa Rica, which has two international airports.
Another advantage is that passport-carrying tourists from US, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa if their stay is of less than 90 days. This makes travel planning more convenient for people from these countries.
Over a million Americans travel to other countries every year for affordable healthcare. Medical tourism in Costa Rica is increasingly cost effective for these tourists as the costs are estimated to be about 45 to 65 percent lower than in the US.
Natural advantages that come with choosing Costa Rica for medical procedures are the breath-taking landscapes, lush greenery, and pristine beaches. In addition to offering a variety of vacation properties, the tourist-friendly country also has the concept of recovery centers for medical tourists.
Because of the numerous options for stays, wellness, and outdoor activities, it is common for many to turn their medical-related visit into a memorable vacation.
Costa Rica’s universal public healthcare system, called Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, is known to be one of the best in the world. In addition to the government-run system, Costa Rica also has private hospitals and clinics that offer safe, high-quality services.
Although doctors are available throughout Costa Rica, most of the top-rated facilities are present in San José. The capital city is home to three Joint Commission International-accredited hospitals—CIMA, Clinica Catolica, and Hospital Biblica.
Dental care, cosmetic surgery and prescription medicines are the main reasons why medical tourists visit Costa Rica. Some of the most well-performed dental services in the country are related to orthodontics, cosmetic procedures, pediatric dentistry, and prosthetics. Eye surgery, cancer therapy, and bariatric (weight loss) surgery are also commonly opted by the incoming tourists.
With growing international standards in healthcare, there is an increasing demand for various other surgeries and medical procedures as well.
Patients Beyond Borders estimated that before the Covid-19 pandemic, over 2 million Americans traveled outside the US for healthcare in 2019. Though the coronavirus-related restrictions dealt a huge blow to the global medical tourism ecosystem, a growing number of people from the US still traveled to other countries for urgent health needs.
With the easing of restrictions, the demand for medical procedures is expected to soon go back to the pre-pandemic times. To get the most out of international healthcare services, it is best to first consult with medical tourism facilitators before undertaking any such trip.
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