Medical Tourism, Treatments and Surgery in San Jose

(San Jose, Costa Rica)

Picture showing an aerial view of San JoseCosta Rica was one of the first countries to embrace the worldwide medical tourism wave, and San Jose has been at the helm with the country's best selection of hospitals.

The Costa Rican healthcare system receives a higher WHO rating than that of the US. Citizens of the US, as well as Canada, flock here to access world-class clinics and San Jose hospitals at prices well below those they are confronted with at home.

The leading hospitals in San Jose are accredited by the Costa Rica Health Ministry, as well as the Joint Commission International (JCI) agency. There are three in the latter category, and this is where most medical tourists seek treatment. The quality of health care in San Jose is so good that local residents enjoy the highest life expectancy in South America, with figures that exceed life expectancy levels in the US.

Advantages of Medical Tourism

One of San Jose's main advantages in the medical tourism industry is its proximity to the US and Canada, where residents are routinely discouraged by prohibitively expensive medical bills and long waiting lines. Better yet, medical practitioners in San Jose are required by law to carry liability insurance, so there is a high level of international accountability at work.

The facilities are cutting edge, and they are often equipped with the latest technology. Many San Jose doctors study abroad, and a citywide emphasis on the importance of medical tourism means that all of the main hospitals and clinics are staffed with excellent English speakers.

Furthermore, Costa Rica is a well-established eco-tourism destination, and travellers routinely check in for outpatient procedures before moving to an exotic resort to recuperate. Several leading health spas outside of San Jose are included in well-publicised local medical tourism packages.

Medical Procedures

San Jose was a pioneer in the medical tourism industry, starting with dental procedures that northern neighbours were comfortable having performed abroad. Other elective procedures, such as cosmetic surgery and minor orthopaedic procedures, followed soon after. Today, international patients save anywhere from 50 to 70 percent on heart operations, hip replacements and a host of cosmetic and dental care in San Jose.


The city's three major hospitals maintain high standards and could comfortably compete with major health centres around the world. Operating theatres reflect the latest technologies, and the medical practitioners have received much, if not all, of their training overseas.

The Hospital Clinica Biblica was built in the 1920s by American missionaries, receiving its JCI accreditation in 2007, and now sees more than 5,000 outpatients on a daily basis. In-patient facilities are more intimate, with room for 120 overnight patients. Procedures offered here range from orthopaedic surgery to bariatric surgery (gastric banding).

The Hospital CIMA is another leading contender in San Jose that has specialists in rhinoplasty. It was accredited in 2008 and has regional branches across the country. The Hospital La Catolica is also in town and is renowned for its La Posada El Convento five-star hotel, where patients can recuperate in luxury.