Video: Cheaper in Costa Rica

By Melissa Francis Reporter
CNBC
updated 5/11/2006 5:00:10 PM ET 2006-05-11T21:00:10

Imagine a place where you receive the best care in the world from some of the best doctors in the world, while having access to some of the latest medical technology. It’s a short plane ride from the U.S. and it’s about half the cost.

Look no further than Costa Rica. Here, doctors limit themselves to the number of patients they can handle at one time, making the patient feel special.

“I have all sorts of American physicians visiting us and seeing patients getting care here. . .the patients enjoy it and that’s what they want,” said Dr. Eduardo Huertas,a neurosurgeon at CIMA hospital here.

Doctors in Costa Rica perform many of the same procedures that are done in the United States, everything from back surgery to face-lifts. Insurance companies with international coverage will honor many of the surgeries, making it even more appealing for those ready to go under the knife. 

"Between 75 to 85 percent of my patients are American - either retired or coming here looking for the same quality with better price," said Dr. Huertas. 

Cheaper, yes. But is it safe?

"Working in a hospital such as this one, we have all the same standards as you have in the United States," said Huertas.

It is those standards, along with highly educated and trained surgeons, that are drawing thousands of patients a year to Costa Rica – many of whom come for plastic surgery.

"People who come from the U.S. generally come for facial surgery -- eyes, lips, face-lift," says Huertas, "Mostly people come for a couple of procedures, it is very rare to see someone come for just one procedure."

It isn’t just the quality of care attracting patients. Not looking forward to surgery? Imagine planning your recovery in paradise… whether its by the beach, or pool.

New hospitals are popping up next to some of the biggest resorts in Costa Rica, giving patients some of the best recovery rooms the world has to offer. Those recovering are often asked to stay at least 15 days, so doctors can be sure that the body has fully healed.

Doctor’s orders . . .

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