Why would someone from a developed country like the U.S. or Canada go to a developing country like Costa Rica for medical care?

There are three principle reasons why individuals would travel to a developing country like Costa Rica for healthcare. Two of the reasons are on the demand side of the equation, while the third is on the supply-side. The two principle reasons on the demand side of the equation are Affordability & Accessibility.

1. Affordability

For many, healthcare is too expensive if they are not insured. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 48 million individuals without health insurance, an additional unaccounted millions more who are under-insured, and an estimated 120 million without dental insurance. This means that the individual has to pay for there medical services out-of-pocket. Therefore, if it is not affordable, it is not accessible. In 2007 an estimated 750,000 Americans left the US for exotic destinations such as Costa Rica, India, and Singapore seeking lower-cost medical alternatives.

2. Accessibility

That is that the medical treatment needed is not available in their home country or the waiting list is too long. For example, hip-resurfacing surgery, which has successfully been preformed in Europe and elsewhere for a long-time been and considered a better alternative for many than hip-replacements, was unavailable in the U.S until recently, because it was not an FDA approved procedure. In another situation, individuals from countries with nationalized healthcare systems (e.g. Canada, United Kingdom) sometimes find themselves on unbearably long waiting lists for certain medical procedures (due to government funding problems) or are simply not eligible for certain medical treatments due to age or health limitations – medical rationing. In other circumstances the medical treatments are simply not available in the nationalized systems due to cost.

In summary, affordability of healthcare directly affects its accessibility regardless of whether the individual or the state is paying, and that is why many are looking to other countries for their health choices. What they have been finding are cost savings of 40%-80%.

Should you have any questions that you would like to ask about medical tourism here in Costa Rica or in general, please don’t hesitate to use the contact form found here.

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