Go abroad for medical care

by Jacob Goldstein ,  Miami Herald | 2007-09-24

Vacation time isn't just for fun. Increasingly, people who have never left the United States before are traveling thousands of miles for complex medical procedures.

The reason is, simply, money. Treatments that would drive many people into bankruptcy at home often cost only a few thousand dollars in the developing world.

Added bonus: Medical tourists get to see another part of the world. But the risks can be significant. Imagine everything that can go wrong after surgery -- then imagine it going wrong in a strange city, 10,000 miles from home, in a country whose legal system may make it difficult or impossible to sue.

Still, the financial rewards are big enough, and the quality of care high enough, that growing numbers of Americans with limited or no insurance are outsourcing their medical care.

Take the case of Tim Devinney, a North Carolina Realtor who needed surgery to close a hole in his abdominal wall. Devinney, who is in his 40s, did not have insurance, and a doctor told him the surgery would cost about $30,000.

He put it off, but his intestine kept squeezing through the abdominal wall -- an incredibly painful experience that sent him to the emergency room several times.

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