With the skyrocketing costs of health care, the issue of health travel or “medical tourism” has been generating lots of buzz in the media. Within the last few weeks, stories about health travel have hit the pages of publications like US News & World, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, detailing how health travel offers people high quality health care at a price far more affordable than the US. It’s a benefit without boundaries – meaning, the cost savings are for anyone who wants them, including the thousands of insured who are nevertheless facing higher premiums, reduced coverage, and higher out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.
While much of the press has focused on exotic locales like India, Mexico is actually the most common destination for Americans traveling for health care. Last year alone more than 50,000 Americans traveled to Mexico seeking everything from heart surgery, hip replacement, cosmetic dentistry, cosmetic surgery procedures, preventive screenings and even homeopathic health treatments. Mexico is widely recognized for its number of leading gastroenterology (weight loss) surgeons.
In its study Medical Tourism: Consumers In Search of Value, Deloitte estimates the number of medical travelers is expected to reach 6 million per year in 2009. The growth is not surprising – the typical medical traveler receive outstanding quality health care at significantly lower cost over U.S. pricing.
For example, in Mexico, weight loss surgery ranges from $6,000-$11,500 vs. the $25-35,000 price tag in the U.S. Hip replacement is $10,000-$12,000, compared to $60,000+ in the U.S. A $100,000 angioplasty in the U.S. is $25,000 in Mexico – featuring a surgeon who regularly spends at least three months of his operating time in the U.S.
Mexico offers the additional benefit of having direct flights from many U.S cities, and most surgeons are fluent in English as well as Spanish. The hospitals that welcome medical tourists are sleek, modern affairs featuring amenities such as patient suites, sushi restaurants and a medical traveler concierge, while even newer, more sophisticated hospitals continue to be built.
Do your research to find the medical tourism company that best suits your needs. There are companies that guide patients through the process of getting medical treatment abroad, handling every detail of your trip – from insurance to financing, arranging for air travel, accommodations, appointments, transportation to and from your procedure and even keeping you in touch with friends and family.