Medical tourism to take hit under new tax plan

The central government’s new tax proposal will hit hard at medical tourism. Unless lawmakers exempt foreign patients from the proposed value added tax, medical services here will be 15 percent higher than they are now.

The Chinchilla administration is proposing a value added tax that covers professional services. These services are not covered now by the existing 13 percent sales tax, although certain materials used by professionals do carry a sales tax.

The value added tax would cover all professional medical services, including dental as well as hospital stays.

The goal of the administration is to raise taxes equal to 2.5 percent of the gross national product, substantially more than citizens pay now. The value-added tax is just one of the several new levies that the administration seeks.

Costa Rica is competitive with other nations offering medical services for foreigners. The country has an advantage because of its geographical location not far from the United States where many medical tourists originate. Other big players in medical tourism are India and the Philippines.

The administration is expected to present all of its proposals to lawmakers Monday. However, general concepts have been mentioned.

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