Colombia is starting to see an increase in medical tourism and eight of the hospitals in Medellín are ranked among the best in Latin America. Foreigners coming to Colombia for medical treatment in 2013 spent approximately $216 million, up from $134 million in 2012.
Bogotá and Medellín are starting to appear on the global medical tourism map. Costs in Colombia can be significantly less than costs in the U.S. For example a heart bypass surgery in the U.S. that may cost $80,000 or more costs only about $26,000 in Colombia. A knee replacement surgery in the US that costs about $40,000 costs only about $15,000 in Colombia.
The salaries of Colombian doctors are a fraction of those in the U.S., even though they are required to have to same level of internationally recognized education and job skills. Foreigners are starting to discover the benefits of having surgeries in Colombia where the costs are much less yet there are highly qualified and skilled surgeons.
Bogotá has a reputation for strength in cardiology. Medellin is best known for Lasik (corrective eye surgery), cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Colombia is also home to some of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world. Over 300,000 plastic surgery procedures are performed annually in Colombia.
The majority of international patients in Colombia come from the United States, Spain, Germany, Venezuela, the Caribbean and Canada. It has been estimated that over 1.6 million in the U.S. already travel outside the country for medical care each year, with this number expected to continue growing rapidly. The government of Colombia has been, for some time now, promoting medical tourism, looking to capture more the medical tourism market.
Medellín has 8 of the Best Hospitals/Clinics in Latin America
A recent study by América Economia found that Medellín has 8 of the top 42 hospitals and clinics in Latin America. These hospitals and clinics in Medellín with their Latina American rankings by América Economia are:
- Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe (7)
- Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación (15)
- Clínica las Américas (23)
- Hospital General de Medellín (26)
- Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana (34)
- Clínica León XIII (35)
- Clínica Medellín (37)
- Clínica Cardio Vid (39)
Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe
Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe is ranked the best hospital in Medellín. The private non-profit hospital is located in the Robledo neighborhood of Medellín. It was founded in 1970 and currently has 371 beds. Besides being a general hospital, the hospital also specializes in renal and cancer care, bariatric surgery, and pediatrics.
Pablo Tobón Uribe also has a special department that handles foreign patients including handling insurance and language and communications with medical practitioners in a patient’s home country. The hospital has several doctors that speak English as well as trained medical interpreters.
Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación
Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación is ranked the second best hospital in Medellín. The private hospital located in the Seville neighborhood of Medellín was founded in 1913 and currently has about 700 beds, 14 operating rooms and six intensive care units. It is one of the largest hospitals in Colombia and Latin America. The hospital also has three specialty centers: Cardiopulmonary and Peripheral Vascular Center, Digestive Diseases Center, and the Organ and Tissue Transplant Center.
Besides being a general hospital, the hospital is well known for transplants. The transplant group in the hospital performed the first bone marrow transplant in Latin America. The hospital also did the first kidney transplant, the first liver transplant and the first successful liver transplant in Colombia. The hospital has done well over 3,000 transplants.
Clínica las Américas is part of Grupo Empresarial Las Américas, which was organized in 1989 by a group of health professionals who had the ideal of building the best comprehensive health care center in the city. The hospital center is located in the La Mota barrio of the Belén neighborhood in Medellín. It is located near the Enrique Olaya Herrera airport in Medellín.
Clínica las Américas currently has 340 beds and 16 operating rooms for general and specialized surgery. It offers services in 77 different medical specialties and sub-specialties.
Hospital General de Medellín was founded in 1948 and it currently has 425 beds and eight operating rooms. The hospital backed by the Medellín government offers inpatient services in a variety of specialties including cardiology, general surgery, plastic surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, internal medicine, pulmonology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, orthopedics, and pediatrics. The hospital also provides adult critical care, pediatric, neonatal, obstetric and gynecological care as well as pediatric emergency services 24 hours a day.
Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana
The Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana is part of the Pontificia Bolivariana University system. The clinic contributes in the university’s processes of teaching and research. The clinic located in Robledo has 187 beds and seven operating rooms.
The clinic offers services of surgery hospitalization, emergency care, intensive care, outpatient, laboratory and imaging services as well as prevention programs. The clinic handles an average of 4,500 births, 7,000 surgeries and 30,000 emergency consultations annually.
Clínica León XIII
Clínica León XIII is administered by the University of Antioquia. The hospital was founded in 1950. It offers surgical, outpatient, hospital, clinical laboratory, neonatal and emergency services. It currently has over 300 beds.
Clínica León XIII was a main clinic in Medellín during the seventies and eighties. But the clinic declined after that time period. In 2007, Clínica León XIII was almost in ruins and was more like a makeshift war hospital than the model medical institution of today. In 2007, 11 of the 14 operating rooms were closed and some beds in the hospital had no mattresses. Clínica León XIII has since that time experienced a massive turnaround after being acquired by IPS of the University of Antioquia to where today it is ranked one of the best hospitals in Medellín.
Clínica Medellín has three different hospitals in Medellín, in El Centro, in El Poblado and it’s newest facility located in Belén, which opened in early 2014. The private hospital was founded in 1947 with the goal to establish a clinic in Medellín that was similar is several respects to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Clínica Medellín offers a wide range of medical services in several areas including anesthesiology, cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, thoracic surgery, general surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, physical medicine, gynecology, internal medicine, intensive care and critical care medicine, pulmonology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pathology, pediatrics, radiology and urology.
Clínica Cardio Vid
Clínica Cardio Vid claims to be a pioneering Latin American thoracic organ transplantation center. The clinic located in Robledo near the Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana currently has 122 beds. The clinic has a 165,904 square foot facility with plans for a future project to expand its facilities.
The clinic specializes in diagnosis, treatment and emergencies of cardiovascular, thoracic, pulmonary and neurovascular conditions. The clinic claims to have done the first heart transplant in Colombia in 1985.
The Bottom Line
Medellín has been gaining a reputation as a top foreign retirement location. Several publications including Businessweek, U.S. News and Huffington Post have called the city a great retirement location.
Health care is a significant concern for retirees and Medellín continues to invest in its health care infrastructure with the city already having eight of the top 42 hospitals and clinics in Latin America.
If you live in Medellín, it is possible to have access to world-class health care in several hospitals in Medellín at a much lower cost than is found in hospitals and clinics in the U.S., Canada or Europe. Each of these hospitals and clinics in Medellín also has some of their staff that speaks English.
With the near perfect weather in Medellín and a continued investment in health care infrastructure as well as low medical costs, Medellín should also continue to attract more medical tourists.