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Healthcare in Costa Rica

Dec 02, 2012

Healthcare in Costa Rica

When you choose to visit a foreign country, or even purchase a home, your first thought may not be about health and dental care. After all, you're going on vacation! It's easy to allow the excitement overshadow any negative thoughts of falling ill, requiring a major surgery or needing to visit a dentist, especially if you've remembered to bring your prescriptions and have purchased travel insurance.

Medical Care & Hospitals in Costa Rica

If you're going to do a comparison, Costa Rica's health care is among the best in Latin America. In addition to already having such great healthcare available, Costa Rica is regularly raising the bar by building new hospitals, installing new equipment and offering continuing education to their staff. You would think these constant developments would put Costa Rica on par with American healthcare costs, but you'd be wrong. Depending on the treatment, Costa Rica is still approximately a third or fifth less then what you'd pay for the same treatment in the U.S. Not only are the drugs less expensive, many of the doctors have been trained in Europe, the U.S. or Canada and typically don't charge more then $60 for a hospital or even in-home visit.

Private Healthcare

High quality, affordable private healthcare is readily available in Costa Rica. The major hospitals that most tourists and expatriates use include CIMA (Center for International Medicine Advanced) - located in San Jose's suburb of Escazu, Liberia in the Northern Guanacaste Province and the newest location in Cortes in the Southern Zone - Clinica Biblica in San Jose and Liberia and Hospital La Católica in San José-Guadalupe. Many of Costa Rica's highly trained doctors and even dentists will work in the government-run facilities in the morning, and then return to their own practice for the afternoon and evening. Although the care may be a bit pricier, it's still significantly lower then what you would pay in the U.S. for the same procedure. This more affordable health and dental care has spawned it's own arm of tourism to Costa Rica, coined "medical tourism". For those that have made the leap and have become residents, the choice is there to use either the government-run CCSS or the well-known private hospitals such as Clinica Biblica, Hospital CIMA, and Hospital La Catolica, where wait times for certain treatments aren't as long.

Government-Run Healthcare

Quality healthcare for Costa Rica's residents isn't forgotten either. The CCSS (Costa Rica's Ministry of Health and Social Security System) sponsors over 30 hospitals and 250 medical clinics throughout the country. This government-run network has worked well for Costa Rican's for the past 60 or so years, although sometimes overstrained. Foreigners that have obtained legal residency are also able to join the CCSS for a minimal fee based on their income. CCSS facilities are available to tourists as well, but only in emergencies.

Dental Care in Costa Rica

Similar to the new term "medical tourism", "dental tourism" is equally popular. Whether it's a basic filling or more complicated periodontal work, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a destination for more then just escaping the cold! Price is certainly a major incentive for North Americans to travel for dental work, especially because Costa Rican dentist are as skilled and qualified as anywhere else. In addition to their skill, the materials they use are all FDA-approved and imported from the U.S. And since you're going to be in Costa Rica for dental work, why not tack on an extra few days to enjoy the country? It is extremely common for individuals travelling for medical or dental care to also enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer in the way of "actual" tourism.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Costa Rica is consistently ranked in the top for countries celebrating long life expectancies. Certainly, the slower pace of life that Costa Ricans celebrate is a large part of this, not to mention the fresh, healthy, non-processed foods that can be found there. Combine the diet, lifestyle and accessibility to quality health and dental care with a tropical climate and it's a no-brainer why it's a healthy place to live!

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