Costa Rica

Every year, over two million tourists visit Costa Rica, which is known for its celebration of life. Costa Ricans believe in what they call “pura vida,” which has several translations including: “full of life,” “purified life,” and “this is living.” Since Costa Rica is so frequently visited, it is even equipped with ‘Tourist Police’ that aids tourists with directions and questions. The primary language in Costa Rica is Spanish, although many Costa Ricans speak English, especially those who work in tourist destinations like hotels. In addition, Costa Rica has a stable economy and a high standard of living compared to other Latin American countries. Unlike many other countries, Costa Rica does not have an army. (MedTrava)

Costa Rica’s health care system is very progressive, especially in its capital, San José. The level of health care is considered one of the most advanced in Latin America. Some of Costa Rica’s most known procedures are ranked higher than procedures done in the U.S.

Every year, thousands of U.S. travelers come to Costa Rica for cosmetic and dental procedures. Costa Rica provides quality care and procedures at far lower cost than in the United States. By the early 1990s, an estimated 15 percent of all tourists that went to Costa Rica underwent some sort of medical procedure. The number of medical tourists to Costa Rica continues to increase as more Americans search for quality procedures at lower prices.

Costa Rica is primarily known for its high quality cosmetic surgeries and dentistry. More complex procedures include heart, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants. Most of Costa Rica’s medical tourists reside in the U.S. and Canada.


Location—Costa Rica is easily reached from the U.S. and Canada. There are many flights from Costa Rica’s major cities, and Americans and Canadians do not need visas if they are staying for less than 90 days. Costa Rica is pleasing for the ‘tourist’ aspect of medical tourism. One side of Costa Rica has the Pacific Ocean while the other has the Caribbean Sea. It has lovely beaches, green mountains, rainforests, lakes, hot springs, volcanos and rivers, with a variety of plant and exotic wildlife. Costa Rica fulfills all aspects of medical tourism. It has beautiful beaches, rainforests and wildlife. It offers quality care and procedures as well as beautiful weather and scenery at very low cost.

Low Cost—There are many cosmetic procedures are offered in Costa Rica that are usually about half the price than prices in the U.S. Procedures include: breast augmentation, liposuction, liposculpture, face lifts, tummy tucks, and reconstructive and reduction surgeries.

Lack of waiting—Unlike the U.S. the waiting time for procedures is much shorter and therefore attractive to patients who are waiting for kidney, liver, heart or bone marrow transplants.

Quality of Care—Costa Rica’s procedures are internationally acclaimed. The World Health Organization has high regards for the level of care in Costa Rica. Many Costa Rican doctors are trained in the U.S. and are known for their precision.

Accreditation—Costa Rican facilities are increasingly accredited. They have advanced surgical equipment and techniques. Costa Rica’s Plastic Surgery Board issues a list of acclaimed and authorized physicians.


Security—Although there have not been any terrorist attacks in Costa Rica, the violent crimes that have occurred in Costa Rica are thought to be linked to terrorism. In San José, there have been attacks on tourists driving from the airport in rental cars. Tourists are also advised to be aware of all personal items, which should not be left unattended. In addition, it is important that tourists do not exhibit signs of wealth, as they might be targeted. There is a substantial amount of car theft in Costa Rica as well.

Health danger—There are a number of diseases in Costa Rica to which tourists are susceptible. In particular, malaria and dengue fever are common. It is advised that travelers try to protect themselves from bites to reduce their risk of catching mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Cost Comparisons



Costa Rica (USD)

Porcelain crown $998 $359
Full acrylic dentures $1,750 $767


United States (USD)

Costa Rica (USD)

Face lift $6,000-12,000 $3,000-4,000
Dental implants (per tooth) $800 $400
Chief source: Compare the Cost of Elective Surgery Abroad, Treatment Abroad

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  1. Pingback: Globalization of Healthcare | Exploring Costa Rica || GLS 251

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