Medical Tourism in Costa Rica
As we all know, our bodies are far from perfect. At times, medical intervention is necessary for recovery. Other times, medical intervention is essential for our comfort. However, American healthcare can be quite costly and a pain to schedule. A root canal, hysterectomy, (removal of the uterus) rhinoplasty, (nose job) or a shot of Botox to smooth wrinkles may not be readily available to eager patients. Some patients have opted to travel in order to receive medical treatment. This is known as “medical tourism”. Many choose to seek it in Costa Rica.
Of course, medical tourism holds many unique challenges in obtaining quality medical treatment. Firstly, the tourist would have to research the procedure, the doctor, and facility thoroughly. Some cases of malpractice due to unqualified “doctors” have been reported. However, in the age of information, it is quite possible to gain knowledge and a honest reputation of any medical practitioner, even if (s)he lives in a different country.
Even if someone is traveling for medical treatment, it is still traveling. A plane ticket and luggage is essential (or a lot of money to cover all the costs). A passport would also be necessary. And, of course, a place to rest (before and after the procedure) may also need to be planned before the trip. Depending on the procedure, schedule, and recovery, it is possible to enjoy and explore a different country. It would be a shame to travel anywhere and fail to explore its beauty and unique culture.
It has been reported that costs for medical or dental procedures in Costa Rica is 40%-70% less than that in the USA. And this figure is a major reason for medical travel. However, there are other costs one must consider. There is the costs of the flight and travel, necessities during the trip, (such as toiletries and clothes) food, boarding, and anything else that may be needed for a successful trip, glitch-free procedure, and a full recovery. Costs should be carefully researched and considered.
There are many procedures that could be obtained in Costa Rica, although cosmetic and dental procedure are among the most popular. Americans have sought treatment in fields such as dermatology (skin) and more serious medical issues. The need for any procedure cannot be life threatening as the patient will face an increased risk of death.
Although recovery can be an unpleasant time, it is just as essential to the patient as the procedure itself. There is no point in getting a gastric bypass surgery if the patient eats an entire pizza to him/herself daily. As with any surgery, it is important to follow instructions. Costa Rica has several ‘recovery spas’ to help patients recover. Of course, it is important to include those costs while planning the trip (or verifying coverage with your insurance company).
Every procedure carries potential risks every surgery has a risk of infection, for example. It is important to know these risks. Medical tourism, however, may present even more risks. As stated before, it is important to do thorough research on any doctor before receiving treatment from them. It is imperative that the patient confirms (or plans) that the costs for the procedure (and trip) is covered. Some insurance policies will dismiss the claim because the treatment did not take place in the USA, or in their network. Recovering in a foreign country may add stress to a patient, and that is never a good thing after a major medical procedure.
Obviously (as stated before) medical costs are much lower in Costa Rica than in the United States of America. Also, there is minimal waiting for procedures there. In the USA, patients could possibly wait a while before receiving treatment. And, you cannot ignore the excitement of being in a foreign land!
There is much to think about when discussing medical tourism. Weighing the pros and cons is essential in deciding if it is the right move for you. But, with all the controversy in healthcare in the USA today, medical travel has the potential of becoming more popular than ever before!
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