Even though Costa Rica is a small country, with a population of about 5 million people, it is known for providing quality, and affordable, healthcare for its citizens, spending approximately 5.33 percent of its annual GDP via the country’s public healthcare system – the CAJA Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). With a current health expenditure per capita of (current US$) $732.30, the government has demonstrated a commitment to providing quality services to its population – particularly when compared to the expenditures of other Central American countries. However, as is the case with most emerging economies, even with a strong public healthcare system, the country has a growing private sector system that accounts for 25.60 percent of the country’s total health expenditure. Costa Rica currently has 15 public hospitals administered by the CAJA Costarricense de Seguro Social and 4 private hospitals, CIMA, Hospital Clinica Biblica, Hospital Metropolitano and La Catolica. In addition, both the public and private healthcare sectors aim to build new infrastructure in the coming years.
One crucial import/export sector in the Costa Rica/United States trade relationship is medical devices, accounting for $335.1 million on imports, while pharmaceuticals accounted for $47.5 million according to Ministry of Foreign Trade - COMEX. The medical device sector is a great opportunity for companies looking to export to Costa Rica, as there is a steadily growing demand for quality and reliable medical devices in the country. The level of demand for medical equipment in Costa Rica is expected to rise, as the public system, which represents 90% of the market, will continue replacing obsolete equipment in virtually all categories of products. Medical devices and equipment are also needed for R&D purposes, primarily with leading Costa Rican Universities and foreign pharmaceutical and edical devices companies developing new products and performing clinical trials in the country.
In addition, with a growing medical tourism sector, opportunities for medical device and supply companies are continuing to grow in the private healthcare sector. On average, 13.4% of tourists coming to Costa Rica annually, come for a medical treatment like:
- Orthopedics (hip, shoulder, and knee replacement)
- Surgery (bariatric surgery and gastric bandages placement)
- Dermatology (skin stein and wrinkle removal through laser application)
- Ophthalmology (cornea transplant, cataract surgery, refractive surgery)
- Plastic surgery (liposuction and face lifting)
- Dentistry (several procedures).
- Fertility treatments
- Substance addiction recovery (wellness tourism)
Health tourism benefits companies operating in the health sector, such as: medical device manufacturers, engineering firms, biomedical producers, pharmaceutical companies, ambulance services companies, insurance companies and more. Having such demand, both private and public Costa Rican hospitals and clinics will demand medical devices, supplies, discardable supplies, laboratory equipment, pharmaceuticals, specialized construction materials, health education, health IT solutions and other biomedical products to provide top-quality health services to patients.
According to Caja’s Infrastructure Investment Portfolio Plan for 2021-2030, the public institution foresees 348 major projects over the next 20 years, representing a more than $3 billion opportunity for U.S. firms. The private sector also foresees important projects, such as the construction of a new hospital called Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose, Costa Rica. For U.S. companies to participate in these projects, it is important to partner with a key distributor, or hospital developer who has already been awarded a project or will be bidding on future projects.
For more information or to discuss how CS Costa Rica can help you expand to Costa Rica, contact Commercial Assistant Isabel Salazar.