Obamacare Is Going To Be Very Good For Costa Rica

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Thanks to skyrocketing prices for health care in America and Canada, an increasing number of people are paying to travel to places like Costa Rica to get care that is cheaper even with travel costs:

(Reuters) – When Canadian house cleaner Marlene Trithardt needed a tooth replaced, she drove past her local dentist’s office in Alberta and flew to the beach paradise of Costa Rica – to save money.

Trithardt is one of a growing number of North Americans who turn south for medical care lured by lower prices, contributing close to 0.8 percent of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product.

“I chose to come here because I find in Alberta the prices are about 80 percent higher than in Costa Rica,” says Trithardt, 57, who makes $30,000 a year.

Her treatment will cost $4,000. But even including airfare, hotels and meals for two weeks, the total amount is lower than the $10,000 she said she was expecting to pay for the dental care alone in Canada.

In the bargain, Trithardt got to take a few days to visit Costa Rica’s national parks.

Around 40,000 medical tourists visited Costa Rica last year, compared to 36,000 in 2010 and 30,000 in 2009. Most of them are American and Canadian, according to the country’s tourism institute, ICT.

The medical industry in places like Costa Rica had to be rooting for Obamcare to pass. With that law’s insurance and care mandates, prices for health care here in America are going to spike, driving more medical tourism as Americans seek lower prices.

That’s great for Costa Rica. That’s not so great for America. And keep in Mind that America, for a lot of Canadians, has been a medical tourism destination in the past. All along our border with Canada the medical industry thrives by providing services to Canadians seeking lower prices, or shorter wait times for care. Buffalo, New York, is famous for this but even communities here in North Dakota like Minot and Grand Forks cater to a significant number of Canadians seeking care.

That, too, will likely become mostly a thing of the past thanks to Obamacare.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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