New medical tourism promotional body in Costa Rica

 

Promed, Costa Rica's longest running medical tourism promotional body has voted to change its statute. This is due to the considerable increase in demand for private health care services in Costa Rica, causing leaders to decide a broader approach to care, coordination and communication was needed.

The new body that has expanded Promed's activities is called Cámara Costarricense de la Salud (CCS) - the Costa Rican Chamber of Health. CCS has been widened to include pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinics, professionals, universities, life and health insurance, health cooperatives, medical tourism companies, pharmacies, research centres, representatives of the medical industry, clinical laboratories, pharmacies, plus wellness and retirement organisations and businesses. The group has 95 members and is expected to grow further.

CCS president Efraín Monge says: "We intend to work with the state to assist in generating solutions to the challenges of the health system. We believe in the need to strengthen public-private partnerships based on the quality of services and medical products."

According to the latest Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH 2013) – National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure, the monthly expenditure of Costa Rican households in medical products, external health services and hospital services tripled in real terms between 2004 and 2013. It rose from ¢11,430 per month on average in 2004 to ¢35,388 in 2013.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) is the national tourism board that concentrates mainly on people going to Costa Rica on holiday. The Promotora de Comercio Exterior (Procomer) focuses on attracting business. The Unidad de Rectores de las Universidades Privada (Unire) is responsible for state universities and international students. The new CCS is responsible for medical tourism.

Local medical tourism is not only Americans coming to have cosmetic surgery, but U.S. companies choosing Costa Rica for surgeries for their employees, and Nicaragua’s national insurance company that purchases highly complex cancer and transplant surgeries in the country.

One of the first issues for CCS is to produce reliable data on numbers and income, as current figures are highly suspect, overblown and mostly guesswork.

According to the most recent data by the Central Bank (Banco Central de Costa Rica), in 12 months ending September 2016, the revenue directly related to tourist activities reached US$3.624 billion, 16% more than the same period for the previous year. Of the total, vacationing in the country continues to be the single largest slice of the tourism revenue, 64%; the rest is divided among business trips, accounting for 15% of the total; health or medical tourism, 13%; and studying in the country, 8%.

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