Plane landing in a medical tourism destinationHow would you like to cut your surgical expenses in half? Medical costs in the U.S. can be staggering: US$ 100,000 for heart bypass surgery, US$ 50,000 for hip replacement surgery. But it is possible for patients to save ten’s of thousands of dollars on medical procedures such as these. All it takes is the willingness to travel abroad and a bit of research.

The thought of medical tourism can give people pause. They worry about the quality of the healthcare they will receive. If the medical facilities will be clean and modern and mostly if it is safe. It might be surprising to learn that not only can you receive treatment by western trained and internationally certified doctors in state of the art facilities overseas, but that many times the quality of the care and facilities surpasses anything that you can receive at home.

As the Michael Moore film ‘Sicko’ pointed out, the American healthcare system just doesn’t work for many people. Spiraling medical costs, long waiting times for surgery and under-staffed hospitals leave many people searching for an answer. Several hundred thousand people pack their bags each year and head overseas for medical treatment. They go for just about every type of medical procedure, covering everything from addiction recovery in Antigua, dental surgery in Mexico to heart bypass surgery in Thailand.

There are more benefits then just the cost savings. Often the savings are enough that the patient can enjoy holiday time before or after the medical procedure. Often the quality of the facilities and level of professional care is actually better then you can get back home.

Just How Much Money Can Be Saved?

How does tens of thousands of dollars sound! The actual cost savings depends on the type of medical procedure being done. The more expensive the surgery, the larger the cost savings can be. There is a huge range of potential savings; ranging anywhere from 50 to even 80 percent depending on the procedure and where you go to have the surgery.

In addition, the costs of the flights and hotels have to be factored into the costs. As a general rule of thumb, any procedure that costs more then US$ 6,000 in the U.S. would be a good candidate for having done overseas. Lower then this and it is difficult to break even because of the added costs of the airfare and hotel costs.

More expensive surgeries are obviously the most viable options for medical travel. Here are some sample costs savings:

Hip replacement surgery: Normally costs around US$50,000 in the U.S. but can be done for around US$10,000 in India.

Heart bypass surgery: Costing around US$100,000 in the U.S. it can be done for around $12,000 in Thailand.

Heart valve replacement surgery: US$200,000 but can be done for about US$10,000 in India.

Where to Go?

Many countries now actively promote medical tourism; at last count there were approximately 30 countries actively involved in medical tourism. The two leaders in the field are Thailand and India and get the most tourist arrivals each year. They both have very low surgical prices, internationally recognized hospitals with excellently trained staff and high quality facilities.

Closer to home Mexico and Costa Rica are popular for dental tourism. Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Panama and South Africa are also popular destinations.

Is it Safe?

As long as the proper research is done, the quality of care should not necessarily be a cause for concern, especially if you book through a reliable agency. Research should be done on the country, hospitals and doctors before committing to any surgery. Many of the doctors are western trained, getting their medial degrees in the U.S. or Europe. Facilities at many internationally recognized hospitals are also world-class.

Using a reliable medical tourism company in the U.S. can cut down on the risks as the company will research the hospitals and staff themselves, and even personally examine the hospitals themselves. They can also advise the patient on such things as travel costs, post operative care and the best destinations for the surgery the patient is considering.

How to Start?

If you are considering medical tourism then you should first have the initial diagnosis done in the U.S. After finding out what procedure is required, you can ask the approximate cost and then use this for comparisons from the overseas hospitals. Don’t forget to factor in the flight and hotel costs.

If you are looking for more information, click medical tourism which is an informational and reference source. You can also Google for “Medical Tourism Companies” which is a good starting place for companies that can assist patients that are interested in medical tourism.

There is no single type of medical tourist. There used to be a stereotype of the wealthy Beverly Hills jet-setter flying overseas for cosmetic surgery but this is no longer the norm. Now all types of people, from all walks of life and all income levels are jumping on the bandwagon. In these difficult economic times it is hard to argue with the cost savings that medical tourism can provide, especially when people realize that they can actually get a better quality of care abroad.

By Arthur P Hanson