In the past, wealthy Costa Ricans traveled to the United States to receive superior medical care and procedures. However, recently, the roles have been reversed, patients from Canada and the United States are coming to Costa Rica, not only because of the incredible biodiversity, but because of the high quality medical care at a lower cost and with shorter waiting periods.

Costa Rica has many well-trained doctors in various specialties, many whom were trained in institutions in the United States, speak excellent English and perform procedures in high-quality hospitals and facilities. In fact, a lot of the equipment is imported from the US. as are many of the dental supplies.

These procedures, however, are much less expensive in Costa Rica, even when airfare, hotel and other travel expenses are included. Canada has been waiting for medical procedures for a long time, and many people are without insurance in the US, making costs much higher.

The change began in the late 1980s when U.S. citizens began traveling primarily for dental work, since many procedures are not covered by insurance. In Costa Rica, the vast majority of procedures are done in San José, with the best equipped hospitals, such as Cima, Católica and Bíblica, some of which are managed by US companies.

Short travel times to Latin American countries in the north of the continent are also attractive to Canadian and US citizens seeking medical and cosmetic procedures.

Almost half of medical tourists come for dental work, with crowns, implants, veneers and bridges that are a fraction of the cost. Gastric shunts, reconstructive and plastic surgery such as tummy tucks, breast implants, hip / knee / shoulder replacements are also performed in Costa Rica.

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