18 July 2013

Couple holding handsThe medical tourism industry is a booming, £26 million business – and spiralling costs in the US mean more people are heading to Latin America for their procedures. Operations are cheaper south of the border, there is tubal ligation reversal surgery in Mexico, buttock implants in Costa Rica, chin and breast implants in Colombia and assisted fertility and gastric bypass in Argentina.It is not just cosmetic procedures; people are also visiting Latin America for cancer treatments, cheap pharmaceuticals, diabetic care and rehab. Most healthcare providers are Joint Commission International accredited and having trained in the US, many are bilingual. Mexico, in particular, is popular for dental and medical tourism due to cheap surgeries, which are not covered by American insurance companies. Also growing are laser eye surgery, dermatology and cardiology with savings ranging from 30 to 70 per cent. Massimo Manzi, director of the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine, said: “Costa Rica has become the premier destination for medical travel and tourism in the Western hemisphere. “Our biggest challenge is educating the consumer. The Summit is a marvellous opportunity to highlight our medical providers and to showcase the incredible opportunities that exist by placing buyers and sellers of medical tourism together.”