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UPDATED Jan. 18, 2012


Thanks to Medical Tourism, 
a good prognosis for
Costa Rica at a big
savings for you!


Costa Rica to Host Global Medical Tourism Conference April 20, 2011

Costa Rica, known worldwide for its leadership in ecological preservation, sustainable development and eco-friendly tourism, will lead the world once again as it hosts the 2011 Medical Travel International Business Summit May 2-4, 2011in San José and Guanacaste provinces.

The Summit will begin May 2-3 with a series of roundtable discussions and expert lectures at the Ramada Plaza Herradura Hotel Convention Center in the capitol city of San José. On May 4, conference attendees will travel to the Hilton Papagayo Hotel in the North Pacific province of Guanacaste, where they will participate in medical tourism training workshops, and learn about medical tourism projects in this rapidly growing province.

“While more than 500 attendees have already confirmed for this global conference, we welcome ‘last minute’ registrations from insurance companies, human resource professionals and corporate representatives to discover the incredible opportunities in Latin American medical tourism,” said Massimo Manzi, Executive Director of PROMED.

Why is Medical Tourism Important for Americans?
Currently, 49 million U.S. citizens are not covered by medical insurance and 108 million Americans do not have even basic dental insurance. By 2015, it is estimated that the U.S. will spend 20% of its GNP on medical services, while a staggering 25% of the population will still lack medical insurance.

Medical tourism represents a critical lifeline to uninsured Americans that cannot afford medical care in the U.S, as well as those seeking advanced medical procedures that are not available in U.S hospitals. Medical procedures in many Latin American destinations, including Costa Rica, are routinely one-third the cost of the same procedure in the U.S. Low cost, high quality medical care within a short flight from most major U.S gateways makes medical tourism an important link for those in need of affordable medical procedures and health care.

What Makes Costa Rica a Leader in Medical Tourism?
Costa Rica first gained prominence as a medical hot spot when American citizens began to travel to this popular Central American nation for inexpensive medical procedures… generally 50%-70% less expensive than the same procedures in the US. Medical tourism gained in popularity in Costa Rica as thousands of happy patients returned to the US and spread the word about their high-quality care, English-speaking doctors, and their incredible tropical vacation, all for a fraction of the price of the same procedures in the US. Inexpensive airfares and Costa Rica’s location only 3-6 hours by plane from most major U.S gateways has made Costa Rica one of the top medical tourism destinations for North Americans. In fact, some 30,000 “health & medical tourists” visited Costa Rica in 2009.

The most popular medical tourism procedures are:
• Dentistry (36%)
• Orthopedics, Bariatric & Cardiovascular (22%)
• Cosmetic Procedures (12%)
• General Medical Treatments (14%).


Costa Rica Medical Costs vs  U.S. Costs:
Tico Times This post was written by
admin on December 28, 2009 
Cost of Medical Treatment in Costa Rica can be a 70% saving
from that of the U.S.
With the cost of medical on the rise, medical tourists from the United States, Canada and Europe should definitely compare the cost of medical treatment in Costa Rica to what it would cost at home. You can reach Costa Rica from just about everywhere in the U.S. and Canada in 12 hours or less; from Europe in well under a day. Costa Rica has eminently qualified doctors, excellent hospitals, attractive recovery centers, affordable costs, and provides an opportunity for a memorable vacation. Places like
Costa Rican Medical Tours offer package deals for both vacation and treatment.
Here are just a couple of reasons why Costa Rica is becoming a desire place to have medical treatment.

  • The cost of medical treatment in Costa Rica can range from a third to even a fourth of what it can cost in the United States and Canada.
  • As required by law, medical practitioners carry liability insurance at all times, giving patients protection and coverage from malpractice.
  • Language will not be a barrier because, along with the doctors, the hospital staff, recovery center staff and tourist industry personnel, as well as a surprisingly high number of Costa Ricans, especially those in their teens, 20s and 30s, can speak English


Medical Procedures USA Costa Rica Average Savings
Heart Bypass Up to $130,000 $24,000 70-80%
Heart Valve Replacement Up to $160,000 $15,000 80-90%
Angioplasty Up to $57,000 $9,000 70-80%
Hip Replacement Up to $43,000 $12,000 60-70%
Hysterectomy Up to $20,000 $4,000 70-80%
Knee Replacement Up to $40,000 $11,000 60-70%
Spinal Fusion Up to $62,000 $25,000 50-60%
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery      
Facelift $7,000-$9,000 $4,600 – $5,000 30-40%
Rhinoplasty $8,000-$12,000 $3,500 – $3,900 50-65%
Breast Lift $5,000-$8,000 $3,000 – $3,400 40-55%
Breast Augmentation $5,000-$8,000 $2,700 – $2,900 50-65%
Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery) $4,000-$5,500 $2,000 – $2,200 50-60%
Brazilian Butt Surgery Up to $10,000 $3,000 – $3,300 55-65%
Tummy Tuck $6,000-$8,500 $3,900 – $4,200 45-50%
Facelift $7,000-$9,000 $4,600 – $5,000 35-45%
Male Breast Reduction Up to $6,000 $2000 – $2600 50-60%
Bariatric Surgery      
Laparoscopic Gastroplasty Up to $30,000 $10,500 55-65%
Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Up to $35,000 $14,000 50-60%
General and Cosmetic Dentistry      
Bridges $1,000+ per tooth $250 – $400 per tooth 60-70%
Crowns $1,000+ per tooth $250 – $400 per tooth 60-70%
Implants $3,500+ per tooth $700 – $900 per tooth 70-80%
Porcelain Veneers $1,500+ per tooth $300 – $500 per tooth 65-80%
Root canal Up to $800 $315 55-60%
Teeth whitening Up to $700 $250 55-65%


Costa Rica Dental Prices:

Costa Rica Dental Costs

Costs for procedures at DentaVac or Dr. Feinzaig’s clinic are a fraction of costs for multiple US treatments. Obtain terrific doctors, fantastic service, reliable procedures and a vacation at a much lower cost! Read all about extremely low prices regarding different treatments. The price for good service and oral procedures doesn't have to be outrageous. Get low prices in Costa Rica..

Cosmetic Dental

Procedures that not only treat oral problems but also improve the appearance of teeth to obtain picture perfect smiles. Experienced cosmetic dentistry surgeons take care of oral cosmetic needs. Contact us to talk about possible treatments and procedures that could fit your specific case and to discuss the cost of cosmetic dentistry procedures. We provide treatments and surgery in Costa Rica at a reasonable price.

Cost starts at $50
* Prices depend on the procedures in question, the cost could include fillings, bleaching, veneers, crowns, porcelain crowns and bridges, etc.



Replace one or more missing teeth from your mouth with bridges, and get back the confidence to smile widely with a new set of teeth. Bridge work and implants are done at our lab. Get temporary and permanent bridges or bridge work repaired. We make removable or fixed bridges and along with the creation of the bridges we give you pointers on bridge care. Bridge costs and prices vary depending on the quantity of teeth that need to be replaced.

Cost: $295 - $495 per tooth
* The cost depends on the number of units included in the bridge and the quality chosen by the customer.



Get crowns fitted in Costa Rica and placed in your mouth, replacing damaged or lost teeth. Crown procedures can use the natural tooth as a post or insert a post if the tooth is too damaged. Get porcelain crowns, gold or porcelain over metal crowns. Dentist's assistance helps you choose the right crown type. Few appointments will provide temporary crowns, and permanent crowns with a resulting beautiful smile. Crown costs vary depending on the teeth that need to be replaced.

Cost: $295 - $495 per tooth
* The cost varies in proportion to the quality chosen by the customer.



Fix cavities or Get filling procedures overseas at reasonable prices. Filling type materials used include silver amalgam (also known as mercury dental filling), gold dental fillings and composite fillings. Ask about getting temporary or permanent fillings in cavities. Cost varies depending on size of filling and type of filling material.

Cost: $75 - $150
* Costs vary according to the quality selected by the client.



Implants replace damaged or deteriorated teeth. Dentavac can offer cosmetic implants at an affordable cost. Read about implant solutions we offer regarding cosmetic, dentures, permanent and temporary implants. Receive implants with quality procedures, surgeons and technicians at reasonable prices. Ask about the dental implant prices.

Cost: $750 - $950
* Dental implant cost depends on the type of dental implant, cost does not include the crown or the fixture on top of the implants.



Surgery procedures in Costa Rica with DentaVac oral health clinic at a reasonable price. Get periodontic surgery, implants, and root canal procedures with experienced surgeons trained in the top techniques of oral restoration technology.

Cost: $100 - $650
* Cost differs in accordance with the type of surgery being carried out.



Get custom dentures made and fitted in San Jose Costa Rica. Dentures and mouth pieces you can rely on are made by specialists at a reasonable price. Get partial dentures and full implanted dentures to improve your oral health and jaw line. We offer different types of dentures including soft, partial, implants, fixed and more, depending on your needs. Dentists at DentaVac will study your case and make comfortable and long lasting dentures.

Cost: $160 - $500
* Dentures cost changes in relation to the type of dentures.


Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneer procedures are meant to cover damaged or stained teeth. Dentavac will make veneer inlays at their lab so you can quickly have the treatment you need. Cosmetic and health benefits await with your new cosmetic dentistry veneers at affordable costs. You can get your tooth inlays, crown veneers and porcelain veneers made and placed in San Jose Costa Rica. Porcelain laminates gives a polished, natural appearing result that effectively masks stains.

Cost: $395 - $495 per tooth
* Porcelain veneers cost fluctuates accordingly with the quality and is set per unit.


Root Canal

Root canal procedures and nerve treatments in Costa Rica. Root canal treatment is needed mostly when the nerve of a tooth is infected and antibiotics are no longer a solution, the nerve needs to be extracted. Dentavac offers root canal surgery and other treatments at a reasonable price. This treatment usually takes two to four appointments depending on that tooth that it is taken place, and most of the times no pain is involved, only in those cases that the infection has gotten out of hand.

Cost: $300 - $350
* Root canal cost depends on the dental piece.


Tooth Whitening

You and your dentist at  will decide together if you are good candidate for tooth whitening. The dentist will take impressions of upper and lower teeth. These impressions will be used to fabricate custom fitted whitening gel trays for you to place over the teeth. This procedure will take approximately 45 minutes. Zoom tooth whitening system in Costa Rica is offered at a more reasonable price than in the USA. Whitening procedures will improve your self esteem as you find yourself smiling more after the professional tooth whitening procedure.

Cost: $180 - $350
* Price depends on the type of whitening being carried out. 


Costa Rica: More than Cosmetic & Dental Surgery

Sep 12, 2007 - Editor Medical Tourism Magazine


Costa Rica not only has universal health care, but Costa Rica is considered to have one of the best health care systems in all of Latin America The government runs more than 30 hospitals and 250 clinics. The Costa Rican health care system has been in existence for almost 60 years.


Most Americans are shocked to find out that Costa Rica has been rated higher by the World Health Organization than the US, and in the last 2000 WHO report the United States rated 37, below Singapore and Costa Rica.



What exactly does one have to do to become a physician in Costa Rica? Like doctors in the US, medical doctors in Costa Rica receive formal university training followed by a postgraduate residency program. The latter ensures that they have extensive practice knowledge in their specialty. In addition, all medical physicians must meet general requirements to be a member of the Costa Rican Doctors’ and Surgeons’ Association (Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos ~ medicos@racsa.co.cr). Dentists, on the other hand, are certified by the Costa Rican Surgeons and Dentists Association (dentista@racsa.co.cr).


Obtaining a medical degree in Costa Rica requires some undergraduate studies in the field of medical and a graduate degree in medicine. It takes six years at the National University of Costa Rica to obtain a graduate medical degree but even then a doctor is not ready for practice. A prospective doctor must complete a Doctorate Title in Medicine and one year of social service at one of the Social State Hospitals.


For postgraduate residency, the amount of time spent in the various programs depends on the specialty field. For instance, plastic surgeons are required to complete an extra eight years of post-graduate residency study. Four of those years is spent in general surgery and the following four years in plastic surgery, for a total of fourteen years of study before becoming a plastic surgeon. Endocrinologist must perform another two to four years to become a specialist and a doctor must spend five to seven years just to qualify in general medicine.




The University of Costa Rica requires students who applying for a nursing degree to perform aptitude exams with a score of 700 or more to quality. The private universities, however do not require this exam. It takes from three to four years for a nurse to graduate and four to five years to graduate as a licensed nurse. To qualify with a masters in nursing, a nurse will spend the three to fours years and then one year licensed, and then another one and a half years on top of that to get the masters degree. In order to work, nurses need a Costa Rican Accreditation Title and must be affiliated with the School of Nurses of Costa Rica. All other nurse titles require accreditation from the Nurses School of Costa Rica.


While Costa Rica has a public healthcare system, it has a growing private health care system which is starting to focus on attracting Americans to Costa Rica for medical care above and beyond the prior reputation for inexpensive cosmetic and dental surgery. Costa Rica is now becoming known for surgeries such as Hip replacements, back or spinal surgeries and knee replacements. In fact, laboratory materials are all FDA approved and shipped in from the United States.


For Americans traveling to Costa Rica for medical care the healthcare is quite affordable. Many of their doctors not only speak English but also have received training in the United States, Canada or Europe.



* 2007 Medical Tourism Association Survey. Costs in the U.S. vary based on Location, provider experience, network discounts and many other factors and will be different around the U.S.


The Two main hospitals in Costa Rica are Clinica Biblica and CIMA. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, CIMA hospital had not finished completing its hospital floor specifically for medical tourists. CIMA also did not provide written information to the Medical Tourism Association regarding its hospital and other items such as infection rates. We hope to include information about CIMA once their new wing has been opened.


Hospital Clinica Biblica, on the other hand, has a dedicated Medical Tourism department of 5 full time employees who speak both English and Spanish and a dedicated floor for medical tourists. The two brothers, Brad and Bill Cook, who run the department, spent some time growing up in the United States and so there clearly is no culture barrier here.


Hospital Clinica Biblica is a private hospital established in 1929 and built by American missionaries. The hospital is affiliated with Tulane University in Louisiana with a capacity of 5,000 outpatients and 120 inpatients per day. Most of the non-Costa Rican patients come from the U.S., Canada and Europe, making up a generous percentage of the 14,400 procedures performed at the hospital each year. At least ten percent of the physicians at Clinica Biblica are U.S. board certified in specialties such as general surgery, orthopedics, cardiac and urology. With its 800 employees, this hospital boasts that all of its nurses are registered nurses and the nurse to patient ratio is approximately four to one and all rooms are private and some are suites.


Clinica Biblica is almost completely through the lengthy and arduous process of JCI accreditation. It has spent thousands of dollars in training all its employees in resuscitation techniques approved by the American Heart Association. Even the janitors are certified! There are state of the art voice activated video surgery rooms and high tech infection prevention architecture reducing the infection rate at Hospital Clinica Biblica to less than three percent compared to the high infection rates found in American hospitals.



Clínica Bíblica Hospital meets international quality standards

January 07, 2011 - By Tico Times

Costa Rica’s health care industry is growing exponentially, driven in part by a mixed public and private system that offers top-quality care at affordable costs and a booming health care tourism industry that draws tens of thousands of travelers every year.


But none of this would be possible if health care consumers lacked some sort of oversight agency that could provide the best assurance that the country’s health care products and services are both safe and effective.

That’s where the nongovernmental Joint Commission International (JCI) comes into play. JCI has worked with health care organizations, ministries of health, and global organizations in more than 80 countries since 1994.

More than 300 public and private health care organizations in 39 countries have been accredited by JCI.


In downtown San José, the Clínica Bíblica Hospital, which has witnessed rapid growth in recent years, thanks mostly to foreign patients fleeing from soaring health care costs and lack of coverage back home, is now certified by JCI for the second time in three years. The current accreditation lasts until 2013.

In order to obtain certification, hospitals must pass JCI inspections and comply with high standards.

It’s not surprising that Clínica Bíblica would keep its JCI certification, but it is reassuring for the thousands of patients the hospital treats each year.

“We are very proud of this triumph that benefits our patients,” said Jorge Cortés, Clínica Bíblica’s medical director. “Once again, Costa Rica proves it has one of the best private hospitals in Central America. It also shows our commitment to the public.”

Here are some of the goals hospitals must strive to meet in order to be accredited: better patient care and safety; cost reduction and increased operational efficiency; growth in public confidence; continual improvement of sanitary conditions; education and best practices; increased employee satisfaction and recruitment.

In those unfortunate circumstances that require a visit to the hospital, it’s pretty good to know that caregivers are focusing on all of these important ideas.

For more:see:www.jointcommissioninternational.org and  www.clinicabiblica.com.



Costa Rica Offers Good-Quality Health Care 

Costa Rica has universal health care, one of the best health systems in Latin America. As always with nationalized health care, expect red tape and long waits, but the quality of Costa Rica's health care is excellent. Private health care is also available, very affordable, and high quality. Many doctors speak English and have received training in Europe, Canada, or the U.S. There are three large, private hospitals that most expatriates use: CIMA hospital in Escazú, Clinica Biblica in San José, and Clinica Católica in San José-Guadalupe.

Statistics from the World Health Organization frequently place Costa Rica in the top country rankings in the world for long life expectancy, often even ahead of Great Britain and the United States, even though the per-capita income of Costa Ricans is about one-tenth that of the U.S. and the U.K. Arguably, one reason for this is the slower pace of living in Costa Rica. And, of course, the healthy, fresh, non-preservative-laden foods found there, and the welcoming tropical climate. Costa Rica just seems to be a healthy place to live.


Costa Rica's Government-Run Health Care System 

With a government-sponsored network of more than 30 hospitals and more than 250 clinics throughout the country, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) has primary responsibility for providing low-cost health care services to the Costa Rican populace. Although sometimes overburdened, this system has worked well for Costa Ricans for the past 60 or so years. Open not just to Costa Rican residents, the CCSS provides affordable medical service to any foreign resident or visitor. Foreigners living in Costa Rica can join the CCSS by paying a small monthly fee--based on income--or they can buy health insurance from the state monopoly Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS), valid with over 200 affiliated doctors, hospitals, labs, and pharmacies in the private sector.



Ahh, Costa Rica! Pristine coastlines, lush rain forests and cheap hip replacements.

 March 03, 2010 by Mario Correa, Travel Weekly Destination Features  

That's right: You can now add cut-rate medical care to the list of attractions being touted to lure visitors to Central America's most popular tourist destination.


"Costa Rica's health system is one of the best in the continent," Ricardo Benavides, the nation's then-tourism minister, boasted at Costa Rica's Expotur confab in 2009. And efforts to promote medical tourism -- where visitors travel for the express purpose of seeking medical care -- would be central to helping Costa Rica's travel-reliant economy ride out a still-sluggish global tourism market, Benavides added.


To wit: In April, Costa Rica will host the first International Congress on Medical Tourism and Welfare in Latin America, and Promed, a private entity tasked specifically with promoting the nation's medical providers, has been launched.


But although Costa Rica has long competed with destinations such as India and Thailand for Americans seeking lower-cost cosmetic surgeries, it's the market for major, nonelective care -- orthopedics, heart surgery, even stem cell therapies -- where local providers see the biggest growth potential.


"It used to be all about plastic surgery," said Dr. Ivan Kafarela, a physician with the privately owned Costa Rica Emergency Medical Service. "Now it's about necessities."


Indeed, with U.S. medical costs ballooning and health reform efforts in Washington stalled, Costa Rica, which has long benefited from both its proximity to the U.S. and a reputation for friendliness toward Americans, may see an opening.


"Hip replacement here costs $15,000, instead of $30,000 in the United States," said Kafarela, whose service provides private emergency care to foreign visitors and expats. "Gastric-bypass surgery is about $25,000 to $40,000 in the U.S., while it's $10,000 to $15,000 here."


But although the costs of Costa Rican health care might seem cut-rate, the quality of services can be comparable to that in U.S. institutions, added Kafarela.


"Our doctors are generally trained overseas, and we work with the best hospitals," he said.


Several Costa Rican hospitals are frequently recommended by U.S.-based "medical tourism facilitators," and they offer resort-like accommodations for their foreign guests. But it's the affordability of care, not the luxurious rooms or free phone calls home, that is piquing interest in the States.


"The policy would say, 'If you choose to have your procedure overseas, there will be no copay, no deductible, and we will pay for you and a companion to fly to your destination and stay for two weeks,'" said Joel Bragen, COO of the New York-based Medical Tourism Partners. Bragen's company aims to craft health insurance policies for U.S. employers that contain lower-cost options for overseas care. (A number of major insurance carriers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare, are conducting their own pilot programs along these lines.)


Harry Bandinel, the Canadian entrepreneur behind Costa Rica Emergency Medical Services, said insurance inducements like these are a chief reason why Costa Rican providers are upbeat about the prospects for their industry.


"We've seen an increase in medical tourism in the last year and a half," said Bandinel. "There are no hard numbers, but we estimate that between 25,000 and 80,000 people came to Costa Rica [in 2008] expressly for health care."


Medical Tourism Partners' Bragen, on the other hand, cautioned that it's too early to bet on the success of Costa Rica or any other nation in the medical tourism business. His company, he said, has struggled to convince American patients that overseas medical care is both safe and reliable.


"People are so fearful of going under the knife in a foreign country," he said. "We've found that it is only when people are desperate that they are willing to consider going overseas."

An Interview with Hospital Clinica Biblica’s Brad Cook 
By Sarah Martin published online: Mar 9, 2010

Hospital Clinica Biblica is one of the most well known hospitals in Latin America. Brad Cook is one of the major reasons why the hospital has been receiving the lion’s share of international patients to Costa Rica.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Costa Rica at Hospital Clinica Biblica of US parents. I had quite an adventurous childhood growing up between Costa Rica, the United States and Brazil, never quite knowing where home was. After finishing High School in Costa Rica, I moved to Michigan where I not only managed to survive the harsh winters but received my degree from CalvinCollege. After graduation I was not quite sure where to call home and finally concluded I would be best served avoiding another Michigan winter and returning to Costa Rica where my parents and siblings had settled down.

I spent my first three or four years there running and developing a scuba business with a business partner before finally settling down at Hospital Clinica Biblica. After a few years of business development, I was able to develop my own company within the hospital running all the International Insurance Billing and developing the Medical Tourism Project for the hospital as the Director of the International Department.


Please explain your role at Hospital Clinica Biblica in Costa Rica.

My company runs the International Department for the hospital and our duties include assisting foreign patients, billing all the international insurance claims for the hospital and doctors and coordinating and developing the hospital’s Medical Tourism project.


What kind of growth have you seen in Medical Tourism in the last few years?

We were quite concerned initially that the financial crisis would have a negative impact on the number of patients visiting our hospital and even though there was an initial decrease things quickly returned to normal and are now on the upswing. Overall there seems to be quite a bit of momentum building in regards to medical tourism as we have seen increased interest from insurance companies and employers to research and implement Medical Tourism. I think the financial crisis and health care debate raging in the US have brought heightened awareness to medical tourism and are acting as a catalyst that could catapult the entire industry forward.


What do you see as one of the biggest growth potentials for medical tourism in the future?

Due to the high costs for healthcare in the US I see the biggest potential growth coming from US insurance companies and employers as they look to lower costs by taking advantage of the huge savings and high quality available at top hospitals overseas. Gradually, the barriers to traveling overseas have been coming apart at the seams and I believe it is only a matter of time before large insurance carriers and employers include an international component to their plans. Tell us why there is so much potential growth for medical tourism in Latin America.


The most obvious reason initially is our proximity to the United States and the overall comfort level visitors feel, along with the familiarity with the Latin American culture and its beauty. More important however, is the fact that we truly have some great hospitals and healthcare systems in our region that offer exceptional care at a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere. Add to this the fact that our culture is much more relational which means that doctors, nurses and recovery hotel staffs invest the time and energy necessary to build relationships and trust with patients.


HCB has a reputation of treating patients like royalty. What does HCB do that is different and sets itself apart?

There is not one thing that sets us apart but a combination of a lot of little things that have a huge overall impact on the patient’s experience.


We definitely pride ourselves on making our patients feel special and the key to this has really been having a process in place so every detail is covered and the patient can arrive, relax and focus on their surgery and recovery. We have put together an exceptional International Patient Program that walks the patient through the entire process from their initial email all the way to the follow up that occurs once they return home. Key in all of this is responding to the prospective patient quickly and with the proper information that allows the patient to make an informed decision.


Our team includes a phenomenal group of physicians that speak English fluently and are committed to lavishing extra attention on our patients to ensure that they are truly comfortable with the entire experience. On top of this, our patient coordinators support the patient with rapid responses to their emails and phone calls and by ensuring they are available for questions through the entire process. They often become like extended family for the patient during their medical visit.

We also have an association of recovery retreats and inns in Costa Rica that provide amazing options and amenities for the patient to recuperate in after their surgery. It is also encouraging to international patients that most of our staff are from the United States or have at the very least resided there at some point in their life, so they not only speak the language but are familiar with the North American culture and the high expectations of American patients.


There seems to be a disconnect, where some hospitals are doing really well attracting foreign patients, while other hospitals or clinics are not having the same success. Where are these other hospitals going wrong?

Obviously there are many internal and external factors that influence whether or not your hospital is successful at attracting foreign patients.

As the head of an International Program, you can work to change the perception of your country as an attractive or safe destination; however, you cannot change your location on the map.

The greatest disconnect I see occurs when hospitals claim they are committed to attracting foreign patients but then do not follow through and put the necessary internal elements in place to build and sustain a successful program.


Often, we hear patients and facilitators comment that they chose our hospital simply because we were able to respond to them quickly and effectively in their native language providing the kind of relevant information they were seeking.

This entire process demands time and consistency and requires a considerable amount of commitment on behalf of the hospital. It is vital for any top hospital who wants to be a serious player in medical tourism to have a fully-functioning international patient program or department that understands the market they are trying to attract. In essence the International Department is the face of the hospital when it comes to promoting its medical tourism services. In concert with the International Department the hospital must have several other essential elements in place such as a dynamic team of physicians who are truly committed to the program, a website that can easily be translated into other languages for accessibility to international patients, along with information on your hospital, doctors, procedures and packages. The International Department must also be able to coordinate a variety of concierge type services such as transportation, recovery facilities and interesting, local tours for patients and companions.

In a nutshell you must deliver the total package to your prospective patients because they become your greatest marketing ally once they return home; word spreads quickly in this industry.


About the Author

Sarah Martin is the Global Communications Director for the Medical Tourism Association and is also a Contributing Editor for both Medical Tourism Magazine and Health Tourism Magazine, as well as a regular author for both publications. Although being new to this industry, she is passionate about the idea of a global network of healthcare providers.






Costa Rica Health Care Making Investments for Foreign Retirees


Costa Rica cutting through the red tape of health care developments

The Costa Rican government is promoting a Costa Rica health care assistance plan to help developers build projects centered on Costa Rica health care facilities for foreign retirees. The help is in the form of facilitating the processes at the different ministries involved with health care related property investments.


New property developments would offer clusters of Costa Rica health care services, including nursing and research facilities, catering to senior citizens looking for an inexpensive alternative to medical care in their own countries


In the wake the global economic slowdown, Costa Rica health care centers are an opportunity for developers to “change strategy,” Minister for Competitiveness and Regulatory Improvement George Woodbridge told La Prensa.


Retirement communities generate “two to three times” the revenue of traditional tourism and real estate projects, Woodbridge said. A population of 10,000 retirees could produce 40,000 jobs and $340 million in foreign exchange, the government estimates.


Costa Rica Health Care for Everyone

But development for this demographic does not mean the general population will be excluded. While the motivation for investing in the Costa Rica health care infrastructure is based on attracting the US retirement population, all other residents whether on vacation or living here can use the same Costa Rican healthcare facilities for themselves. Once an infrastructure is in place, along with the processes for getting permission from the Costa Rican government to build and offer health care services, many other health related companies will begin investing in Costa Rica. Right now, to open a health care related business the required red-tape process is choking these investments and now it looks that the Costa Rica government will do its part to alleviate this.


Last year, medical tourism attracted 30,000 visitors to Costa Rica, according to government data. That number is expected to increase as health care costs continue to rise. The U.S. is expected to generate 1.3 million medical tourists in 2011, according to a report by the DeloitteCenter for Health Solutions, which ranks Costa Rica HealthCare in the top 10 destinations for medical tourism.


Until recently, most of the traffic in the past has been young people looking for cosmetic surgery and dental work, not seniors, Deloitte says.


“With health care at the center of attention in the U.S. this concept could certainly gain ground if implemented properly,” Panama developer Sam Taliaferro notes in his Panama Investor Blog. “If Obamacare gets legs one area that you can be sure will be left out in the cold is alternative health care practitioners. I bet they will head south with technology and skills.”

(For the record, the World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica’s health care system at 36th in the world, one spot ahead of the United States.)


Dentistry in Costa Rica

Dentistry is overseen by the Colegio de Cirujanos Dentistas de Costa Rica. Dentists complete 6 year courses from the University of Costa Rica in D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery), or similar courses from various private universities. Costa Rica is often cited as being one of the top ten countries in the world for medical tourism, including dentistry.





Costa Rican Medical Care promotes Health Care Savings June 21, 2010   PRWeb

Lake Geneva, WI PRWEB) June 21, 2010 -- When people think of medical tourism they offen think of major medical procedures, yet just getting a complete physical in Costa Rica can save you enough money compared to the US prices you can take a family of four on a complete Costa Rican vacation.

Tom Duhr of Commercial Group Intermediaries, Inc. in
Chicago wished to experience firsthand what Costa Rican Medical Care offers while attending the Latin American Medical Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica.

'I ordered the Executive Plan physical and the service I received was unbelievable. I was taken from station to station, for my testing, and never had to wait in the hospital", said Mr. Duhr. "When I returned home, I took my complete physical papers back to my doctor and he was impressed with all the tests but more importantly with the report the Costa Rican doctor has provided for my doctor here in the
USA. We both figured I saved around $5,000 with all the tests I received, compared to having all these tests done in the states. Costa Rican Medical Care is something that I will be talking with my brokers and consultants as a means for their clients to save money on raising health care costs in the self funded community."

There are many one day medical or dental procures that you can take advantage of before or after you explore the natural beauty that a trip to
Costa Rica offers.

Physicals for women and men
Stress Test
Eye Exam
Dental Cleaning, whiting, fluoride treatment

'Health care costs in the
United States have exploded in the last few years, but the same procedures are very affordable in Costa Rica. Many people or self insured employers that have to pay for their medical expenses out of pocket don't realize they have other options which can keep them healthy and save money at the same time, said Tim Morales of Costa Rican Medial Care. 'Working with the three JCI accredited private hospitals, physicians, plastic surgeons and dentists in Costa Rica, Costa Rican Medical Care can help people save up to 70% on certain medical care procedures'.

Why not let Costa Rican Medical Care make an introduction for you to the one or more of the many qualified medical providers in
Costa Rica. For more information on using Costa Rican Medical Care visit www.costaricanmedicalcare.com or call them at 262-348-1300.
Media Contact:
Costa Rican Medical Care



Medical tourism expected to increase with U.S. health reform

 March 23, 2010 Tico Times By Chrissie Long  

Even as the $940 billion health reform in the United States will expand medical care coverage to 30 million previously uninsured citizens, there will still be a market for medical tourism, said Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the U.S. - based nonprofit Medical Tourism Association.

“We anticipate medical tourism to increase,” Stephano said in an interview with The Tico Times on Monday. “More people will have access to health insurance (in the United States ), but you are going to see an increase in the underinsured.”


It's these underinsured that have traditionally provided a large client base for medical tourism, Stephano said, as people look abroad for services that United States insurance companies deem “not necessary” including hip replacements, dental care or cosmetic surgery.

Patients are able to find such non-essential services of similar quality but at a fraction of the cost in countries like Costa Rica, India and Brazil, said Michael Quirós, who oversees Latin American operations for the Medical Tourism Association.

However, it's not just the underinsured who will be looking abroad for medical care. With increased strain placed on medical services in the U.S. – because of greater demand – insurance companies will start offering incentives for their clients to receive medical treatment abroad.

“Outside of the United States, medical care is less expensive – in some areas, five or six times so,” he said. “Insurance companies and employers recognize the price differential and will encourage patients to seek attention abroad.”

“I think the health reform is 100 percent positive for the medical tourism industry,” Quiros said.

The reform, which the U.S. Congress passed on Sunday night, will require every American to have health insurance by 2014 and expand Medicaid to cover people who cannot afford to pay for insurance themselves. It will also prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against patients based on their medical history and will lower prescription medicine costs for seniors.

Stephano said the United States system may start to resemble the system in Canada and Europe, where greater demand for health care has increased wait-times and pushed individuals to seek alternatives.

“More people are going to begin using health services, which puts a higher demand on the country's health system,” she said. “The situation may be compounded with the (aging of the) baby boom generation.”


According to a study done by DeloitteCenter for Health Solutions, an estimated 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007. This number is expected to increase to six million in 2010.

Costa Rica, with its three internationally-accredited hospitals and proximity to the United States, is in a unique position to take advantage of the emerging market, according to health industry experts. In recent years, the country's private hospitals and clinics have buffed up their marketing materials, hoping to capitalize on U.S. clientele.



Former San Francisco Chronicle travel editor Christine Delsol:
SFGate Sept. 22, 2010 Copyright SFGate


With options mushrooming, it's important to know how to choose a care provider or medical facilitator. A good place to start is MedicalTourism.com, which provides information on countries that provide medical tourism, and the AMA's guidelines on medical tourism, which outlines what you should expect.


People who have experienced medical tourism have these tips:

  1. Know what is wrong with you — you can't completely avoid seeing a doctor at home — so you can choose the best facility and doctor.
  2. Research all you can about your procedure, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  3. Get your doctor's profile.
  4. Find out exactly what the price covers: Airfare? Hotel? Ground transportation? An English-speaking interpreter, if needed? The best medical travel programs include all of these.
  5. Make sure the hospital is JCI accredited.
  6. Find out if accommodations are close to the hospital.
  7. Ask whether you will you need to give blood for use during surgery.
  8. Find out what follow-up care will be required, and whether you'll get help arranging it after you get home.
  9. Ask what happens if things go wrong and whether you'll get assistance in seeking recourse.
  10. Once all your questions are answered, you get to the most important consideration of all. Lostocco nailed it: "You just have to feel comfortable with the person who is telling you about the service."

Patient Money

Going Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care

Ben Schreiner and his wife, Pamela, traveled to Costa Rica in search of lower cost and better care for Mr. Schreiner's hernia surgery.

WHEN Ben Schreiner, a 62-year-old retired Bank of America executive, found out last year he would need surgery for a double hernia, he started evaluating possible doctors and hospitals. But he didn’t look into the medical center in his hometown, Camden, S.C., or the bigger hospitals in nearby Columbia. Instead, his search led him to consider surgery in such far-flung places as Ireland, Thailand and Turkey. Skip to next paragraph

Surgery Abroad
Ultimately he decided on San José, Costa Rica, where just a week or so after the outpatient procedure and initial recovery, he and his wife were sightseeing throughout the country, then relaxing at a lush resort. He was home four weeks later, with no complications.

Mr. Schreiner is what’s known in the health care world as a “medical tourist.” No longer covered under his former employer’s insurance and too young to qualify for Medicare, Mr. Schreiner has a private health insurance policy with a steep $10,000 deductible. Not wanting to spend all of that on the $14,000 his operation would have cost stateside, he paid only $3,900 in hospital and doctor’s bills in Costa Rica.

“I didn’t have to fork over my entire deductible,” Mr. Schreiner said. “What’s more, they bent over backwards there to take care of me — no waiting, a friendly staff, everyone spoke English.”

At least 85,000 Americans choose to travel abroad for medical procedures each year, according to a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Treatment includes dental implants, hip and knee replacements, heart valve replacements and bypass surgery. The cost of surgery performed overseas can be as little as 20 percent of the price of the same procedure in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Medical Association.

Medical tourism is expected to expand quickly in the coming years because of rising health care costs in the United States, increasing availability of international facilities with United States accreditation, and the fact that insurers and employers are beginning to embrace the practice.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, for example, has started a subsidiary company, Companion Global Healthcare, to offer medical tourism services to individuals and businesses. Hannaford supermarkets in Maine recently added an international option for hip replacements to its health care plan.

At the moment, however, the bulk of medical tourism candidates are uninsured and underinsured people paying their own bills and looking for low-cost alternatives to American care. Medical tourism advocates argue that the quality of care overseas is often equal to or better than that in the United States. Many countries have high success rates, American-trained English-speaking doctors and the newest facilities, often built specifically to attract foreign patients.

But there are no comprehensive data that adequately compare overseas surgical outcomes or other quality measures to those used in the United States, said Dr. Sharon Kleefield of the Harvard Medical School and a specialist in overseas health care quality measures. “No matter how high your hospital is rated, there are issues with regard to quality and safety when you travel for medical treatment,” she said.

The American Medical Association, also worried about the risks associated with overseas medical travel and the difficulty in getting adequate follow-up care, issued guidelines on medical tourism last June. (They’re available on the Web at tinyurl.com/cpklcw.)

With those cautions in mind, here’s what you need to know if you are considering an international medical option:

Determine whether you are a good candidate. “Traveling for surgery is a big deal,” said Josef Woodman, author of “Patients Beyond Borders: Everybody’s Guide to Affordable World-Class Medical Tourism.” Recovery time is often compressed, and a long flight home can cause complications like a blood clot. You’ll need to provide a thorough health history and have a physical stateside before you go to make sure you can withstand the trip.

Mr. Woodman points out that not every condition should be treated overseas: “Orthopedic and nonemergency heart procedures have some of the highest success rates. But with something like cancer, you need the ongoing relationship with your oncologist and health care team.”

Get a reliable middleman. Dozens of medical tourism facilitators and planners have sprung up in the past decade hoping to capitalize on the trend and simplify the process for consumers. “Unfortunately, plenty of unreliable firms have sprung up, too,” said Jonathan Edelheit, president of the Medical Tourism Association, a nonprofit organization made up of hospitals and facilitators that cater to traveling patients.

Good firms, said Mr. Edelheit, will match your medical needs with the best overseas hospitals and physicians; make your travel, lodging, visa and local transportation arrangements; handle billing; and help arrange follow-up care. For a list of facilitators vetted by the association, go to medicaltourismassociation.com. Once you narrow your search, ask each potential firm for references and former patients you can interview.

Check out quality yourself. Although medical tourism firms will say they work only with the highest quality hospitals and physicians, you’ll still need to check the records. Don’t be swayed by the luxurious private hospital rooms, gourmet food and other amenities splashed on the Web sites. You want to be sure you’re going to a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission, the organization that reviews both American and international medical and dental facilities, using United State standards. (Find it at www.jointcommissioninternational.org/.)

Be sure to read carefully, a commission spokeswoman, Elizabeth Zhani, warned. You may find a facility’s name on the accreditation list, but it may be that only an affiliated lab or clinic is accredited, not the entire facility.

“Keep in mind that commission accreditation is the floor, not the ceiling,” said Dr. Kleefield. You’ll want to ask your own questions about the facility’s blood safety, medication safety, infection rates and unexpected morbidity rates for the procedure you’re undergoing, and discuss the data with your American doctor.

Just as you would in the United States, you’ll want to interview the physician handling your case before you arrive. Ask if he or she was trained in the United States and is fluent in English, how often he or she has done the procedure you’re having, and what the long-term outcomes have been. Conducting this interview beforehand will also help you establish a rapport with your doctor before you go under the knife.

Arrange your follow-up care in advance. “The biggest stumbling block with medical travel is getting care when you return,” said David Boucher, chief executive of Companion Global. Doctors often balk at treating complications from overseas surgeries because they are unfamiliar with the procedures or prosthetics used or are worried about liability.

Meet with your general practitioner and any specialist who may have been treating you before you go, said Dr. Ted Epperly, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians: “They’ll be able to provide your medical records, either electronically or on paper, to your overseas doctors.”

Give your doctors in the United States specific details on where you are going for your procedure and contact information for your overseas doctors. And be sure to ask what medical records and information you need to bring home to complete your care.

Finally, before you leave, do your best to arrange a phone or e-mail conference between your doctors at home and abroad so communication will be established before a problem arises.