What is the quality of Costa Rica’s healthcare system?

The short answer is very good. It might come as a surprise to many, but a year 2000 survey conducted by the WHO (World Health Organization) of its 191 member states healthcare systems ranked Costa Rica 36th. This ranking placed Costa Rica among the top three in Latin America as well as ahead of 154 other countries globally, including the United States (37th), New Zealand (41st), and Thailand (47th). While some may debate as to what this survey actually measures or what these results mean (as I have), it does without question demonstrate that Costa Rica’s dedication to quality health, both from a cultural and political standpoint, has been confirmed by measurable outcomes.

Doesn’t Costa Rica have a nationalized healthcare system?

Yes, Costa Rica does have a nationalized healthcare system, in which the government runs more than 30 hospitals and 250 clinics. This system has been in existence for almost 60 years and has been able to provide for many of the people of Costa Rica. Yet, Costa Rica’s nationalized healthcare system, like nationalized systems the world-over, has been plagued by the typical problems of long waits, rationing, slow and sometimes impersonal service, and dated hospitals. As a result, a more responsive parallel private healthcare system has been growing.

Does Costa Rica also have a private healthcare system?

Yes, Costa Rica has a small, but rapidly growing private healthcare system which now is targeting the Medical Travel (Medical Tourism) market. Private healthcare has been available in Costa Rica for a very longtime, but historically has only represented a small portion of the healthcare sector. In the past two decades, Costa Rica has built an international reputation for inexpensive cosmetic and dental surgery.

These are areas of healthcare typically not covered by U.S. insurance policies and thus must be paid for out-of-pocket by the patient. As a result, numerous Americans, and others, have come to Costa Rica for dental surgery (e.g. crowns, implants, etc.) and plastic surgery, finding typical savings of 40% – 80%. In addition, today there is an increasing trend of individuals coming for orthopedic and laparoscopic surgeries. This growing trend is related to the rapidly increasing cost of insurance premiums combined with ever-decreasing benefits in the U.S., or the rationing and long waits in the nationalized systems like in Canada or the U.K.

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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