US medical tourists are the mainstay of Central American countries


90% of medical tourists to Costa Rica come from the USA and Canada, and the figure is very similar for Colombia and Mexico.

New figures from the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (PROMED) indicate that 2012 will close with a figure of 45,000 medical tourists who chose the country for some type of medical procedure. This compares to 40,000 in 2011 and 36,000 in 2010.

On average, medical tourists pay $7,000 for an average stay of 15 days, which represents an income of $300 million annually for the country. These tourists usually travel accompanied by at least one person, which increases travel expenses. Regular tourists on average spend $1,200 per visit.

PROMED says that 90 % of medical tourists come from the United States and Canada, attracted mainly by lower rates on dentistry, cosmetic surgery and orthopedics.

90% of medical tourists to Colombia come from the USA, and all but a handful are Colombian expatriates or their descendants. Mexico is almost completely dependent on US medical tourists.

Government agency ProExport Colombia has selected Stackpole & Associates in collaboration with The Center for Medical Tourism Research to conduct its national medical travel market analysis. Andres Castellanos of ProExport Colombia says, "Their sophisticated market analysis capabilities combined with practical marketing results will have significant impact on the medical travel sector for Colombia".

The country has invested substantial sums in improving and expanding its health care infrastructure, creating the environment to provide healthcare services to increasing numbers of international patients. The marketing project is the next step in raising Colombia's profile in medical travel.

Irving Stackpole of Stackpole & Associates comments, "At one hospital alone, doctors perform 40 heart transplants per month. This is the type of skill and expertise that Colombia has to offer the world".

Over the next several months, the team including Elizabeth Ziemba of Medical Tourism Training and Margaret Ball, of Health Links International, will be conducting original research to identify the best competitive marketing position for the country.

Dr. David Vequist of the Center for Medical Tourism Research says, "We will capture and analyse primary data on the preferences of potential medical tourists for Colombian healthcare destinations. The results of this research will be vital in the development of the country's marketing plan.”

MediExcel Health Plan has received regulatory approval to operate in California as a cross-border HMO plan. MediExcel, Mexican-based and doctor-controlled, sells group healthcare cover to US employers in California for workers and eligible dependents to receive healthcare benefits in Baja California.

Recognizing the growing US consumer demand for affordable healthcare in Mexico, a new cross-border HMO Plan is selling group healthcare cover in California’s San Diego and Imperial Counties in September 2012. California law allows Mexican-based health plans to sell group healthcare cover in California and provide benefits in Mexico. MediExcel mainly use Hospital Excel and PRO-MED Medical Group.



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