Medical Vacations: The Retiree Health-Care Solution?

by Billy and Akaisha Kaderli ,  Fool.com | 2008-08-12

The debate over U.S. health-care reform rages on. But why wait for someone else to dictate your future? You have many options -- if you're willing to take a vacation. If recovering from a medical procedure while lying on a palm-swept beach, relaxing by the hotel pool, or shopping for terrific bargains sounds good, then medical vacations may be exactly the right solution for you.

From hip replacement to heart surgery, more people are discovering the advantages of traveling abroad for their medical needs.

A big growth industry

In just the past few years, medical vacations have gone from a tiny niche market to an impressive growth story with substantial market-share gains. From Mexico to India, Costa Rica to Thailand, hospitals are taking advantage of this global trend. And U.S. companies are taking note as well. Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina are among the health-care companies tailoring their corporate health insurance plans to give employees the opportunity to head to India or elsewhere for surgeries such as knee replacements and the more modern, less invasive approach to hip replacement, hip resurfacing.

In the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica is currently the "in" destination for travelers, especially for dental and cosmetic surgery needs. You can schedule online and receive a custom-made package, appointment and prices in your email response.

For years, people in the American Southwest have capitalized on the high-quality dental work available south of the border for a fraction of U.S. prices. Now more people are traveling to Guadalajara in Mexico for body augmentation and other surgeries, too. Many of the doctors there are U.S.-trained, and the equipment is top of the line. (We know, because we've used it.)



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