An article in today’s New York Times on medical tourism reminded me of one of the stories of medical care in Costa Rica I heard down there. The woman had gotten a $2000 estimate for a crown and told her dentist flippantly that she’d rather get it done in Costa Rica for that price. He was quite defensive about it, and she went ahead with it. She and her husband live part-time in the Osa Peninsula, so they headed down and went to their local clinic. She decided not to tell the dentist exactly what was needed to see if he knew what was up. He did, and it was done for $120. They spent less than $2k for a crown and a week of surfing.
Some of the other stories were also positive – nice hospital experiences where you’re treated like a human being. Doctors who take the time to get to know you and don’t hurry out of the office. It’s not perfect of course – if you’re using the CAJA (national healthcare) and you need an operation, you’ll have to wait. Obviously that’s not good if it’s a life or death situation, but for many expats, paying out of pocket for private care is an affordable option. One person mentioned a c-section costing $3500, and midwife services can cost much less. Prices for generic prescriptions are way low.
I priced international health insurance for the four of us – comprehensive care – and there was a significant difference in cost based on whether coverage was required in the US or not. For ~$1600, we can get coverage worldwide except in the US. For an extra $1k, we can add coverage in the US as long as it is not our primary residence. How ridiculous is that? $1000 to have medical coverage in the US for one vacation a year. It boggles the mind that coverage can extend to countries like England, France and Germany but the situation in the US is so skewed towards profits that it costs 60% more.