With traditional tourism hit hard by the global recession, Costa Rica is seeking to draw foreign visitors by offering low-cost, high-quality health care – especially targeting people from the United States, where the same medical procedures can cost up to four times more.
Health tourism is growing around the world due to the high costs of private medical services in industrialised countries, which have prompted many to look to developing countries in search of good quality, inexpensive care.
More than 40 million people in the United States (population 306 million) have no health insurance, which makes them an attractive potential market for medical tourism countries like India, Thailand, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Brunei, Cuba, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Hungary, and more recently, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has the advantage of proximity to the United States, good air connections between the two countries, political and social stability, and low crime rates.
Most sought-after here are eye surgery and dental treatment, followed by plastic surgery, orthopedic procedures, neurosurgery and gynecological care, according to government statistics. Foreign patients generally pay 30 to 60 percent less than what they would pay back home.