Friend and former brother-in-law Dave Sarkey is one of almost half-a-million former GM employees who lost their dental insurance during the recent round of bailouts and benefit cuts. That’s bad news when you unexpectedly discover you need a new round of dental work, including crowns and caps. Local estimates were $800 to $1500 a tooth.
“That’s pretty steep,” said Dave, reeling from the sticker shock. It didn’t take him long to remember all the medical and dental tourists he met during his frequent vacations to Costa Rica. Long recognized as an environmentally friendly tourist haven for Norteamericanos, Costa Rica plays host to more than 800,000 United States visitors each year.
Dave quickly searched Craiglist for affordable lodging, so that he could combine an extended vacation with the opportunity to research local dentists. That’s how he found former U.S. resident Jim Twomey and his wife Bibi, and their $25 Bed and Breakfast in Santo Domingo, Heredia.
The next challenge was to find a a dentist, and Dave elected to do that on site. “You have to do your homework,” said Dave last week when we chatted computer-to-computer over Skype. He found dentists in Costa Rica charge $230 to $370 a tooth for the same dental work that would cost so much more in Michigan.
“You can get a gold tooth for an extra $85,” said Dave. “I keep thinking about whether I want to look like a pirate.”
Some people might not be comfortable having medical and dental work done in another country where language barriers are a potential consideration. But Dave said that is why he wanted to spend some extra time making sure that he found a dentist he trusted.
Stay tuned for updates – and definitely a picture if Dave succumbs to the temptation to go for the gold.