Medical Tourism Expected to Rise

February 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment


NOTE: Costa Rica’s healthcare is ranked above the United States’.

Costa Rica Developers Eye Health Care Centres
by Kevin Brass

The Costa Rican government is promoting a plan to help developers build projects centered on health care facilities for foreign retirees.

New developments would offer clusters of services, including nursing and research facilities, catering to senior citizens looking for an inexpensive alternative to medical care in their own countries

In the wake the global economic slowdown, health care centers are an opportunity for developers to “change strategy,” Minister for Competitiveness and Regulatory Improvement George Woodbridge told La Prensa.

Retirement communities generate “two to three times” the revenue of traditional tourism and real estate projects, Woodbridge said. A population of 10,000 retirees could produce 40,000 jobs and $340 million in foreign exchange, the government estimates.

Last year, medical tourism attracted 30,000 visitors to Costa Rica, according to government data. That number is expected to increase as health care costs continue to rise. The U.S. is expected to generate 1.3 million medical tourists in 2011, according to a report by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, which ranks Costa Rica in the top 10 destinations for medical tourism.

Until recently, most of the traffic in the past has been young people looking for cosmetic surgery and dental work, not seniors, Deloitte says.

“With health care at the center of attention in the U.S. this concept could certainly gain ground if implemented properly,” Panama developer Sam Taliaferro notes in his Panama Investor Blog. “If Obamacare gets legs one area that you can be sure will be left out in the cold is alternative health care practitioners. I bet they will head south with technology and skills.”

(For the record, the World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica’s health care system at 36th in the world, one spot ahead of the United States.)

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