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Costa Rica Seeks Medical Travellers


The Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine is saying wait a minute to Canadians resigned to long waits for some medical and dental procedures.

Massimo Manzi, the agency’s executive director, told a Toronto gathering Tuesday (Aug. 11) that Costa Rica saw 48,000 medical travellers in 2011, and the number is rising.

About 11% of current medical travellers are Canadians seeking the likes of knee and hip replacements, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery and dental work in a smallish country that Roberto Dormond-Cantu said has a medical system that’s similar to Canada, some 30 “major” public hospitals and more than 100 primary care clinics.

Costa Rica is one of a number of countries courting Canadians frustrated by often long waits in this country for some medical treatments.

Many Costa Rican medical personnel trained in Canada or the United States, the gathering was told.

Massi told the Toronto audience that it’s a “myth” that only Canada and the United States have good hospitals.

Massi added that Cost Rica has around 5,000 dentists, well above the 1,130 the World Health Organization says would be suitable for a country with its smallish population and so many Costa Rican dentists are looking elsewhere for clients.

Mario Bonilla of San Jose’s New Smile Dental Group said as many as 30% of his clients are Canadian and Costa Rican dentistry can offer Canadians savings of 70% to 80% on dental procedures. The cost of full mouth restoration averages US$68,000 in the United States, but less than US$18,000 in Costa Rica, he said.

Costa Rican dentists will provide travel agents who send them clients a referral fee that averages 10% to 15% of the cost of work done, Bonilla added. “You’ll never get that from a hotel,” he stated.

Pictured at the event are (l-r) Cristina Valencia of Andes Travel, Dormond-Cantu, Bonilla and Lino Martinez, JM Vacations.

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