Why would you want to get on a plane to get your health care? To save money, of course.
People come to Costa Rica for dental work, cosmetic surgery, hysterectomies, and joint replacement, to name just a few of the more common procedures. One of the most sought-after cosmetic procedures (in Costa Rica and elsewhere) is breast enhancement–in 2010 that surgery cost under US$3,000 in Costa Rica and over US$7,000 in the United States.
Doesn’t sound like much of a vacation? Maybe not. But if you know you’ll need elective surgery soon, you might want to surf, river raft, and soak in hot springs, then spend a couple of days visiting local doctors, private hospitals, and aftercare facilities, all in the San José area.
With new developments in U.S. health care, it looks as if fewer citizens will be completely without medical insurance. But there may be big deductibles, certain procedures that are deemed elective, and that necessity that seems to slip throughout he cracks: dentistry.
Heading for a country where healthcare is cheaper and lawsuits fewer means you can save bigtime (even after the airfare and hotel bill) on anything from crowns to lasik eye surgery. The private hospitals here are spotless and well-equipped, and the doctors are well-trained. Many have studied in the U.S., Canada, or Europe.
Before you come
–Bring your medical records with you so the doctors you consult can see them. Check the Center for Disease Control’s excellent guide to Medical Tourism; if you are considering cosmetic surgery or dental work, print out the questions the CDC suggests asking the doctors you consult.
–Research doctors and hospitals: check out the aftercare facility websites (see below) for which doctors they work with, find online message boards about surgery abroad, and take a look at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica’s list of recommended doctors.
While you’re here: Visit hospitals
There are three major well-regarded private hospitals in Costa Rica:
–Hospital CIMA San José, near the San José suburb of Escazu
–Hospital Clínica Bíblica. in downtown San José
–Hospital La Católica, in the San José suburb of Guadalupe
All three hospitals are aggressively marketing themselves to international patients, aka medical tourists. At a time when conventional tourism isn’t growing at the rate it once was, medical tourism is booming. These hospitals are going after their share of this $40 billion a year world industry, and they’ve created special web sites in English and toll-free numbers in the U.S. to answer questions about procedures and insurance. All three are accredited by the international recognized Joint Commission International.
Call or email ahead of time to arrange an English tour of the any or all of three major clinics/hospitals in San José. Also contact the hospitals’ billing department to talk about fees and payment options—all three hospitals accept several U.S. and international health insurance plans.
Here’s more on health care in general in Costa Rica.