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Global Healthcare

by Russell Wild ,  Financial Planning | 2006-11-01

Welcome to the brave new world of global healthcare.

Most financial planners concern themselves more with making money for clients than with saving them money. But the impact of a potentially catastrophic medical expense on a family's finances cannot be ignored. Indeed, one study from Harvard found that of the 1.5 million American families that filed for bankruptcy in a recent year, about half cited medical causes. In fact, three-quarters of all those bankrupted Americans had health insurance, although obviously not enough.

Polls consistently show that many Americans are running scared from the rising cost of healthcare. A recent survey from public opinion research firm Lake Research Partners found that rising healthcare costs are now voters' top economic concern. Another poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that having to pay for healthcare and health insurance is now the top fear in America--more terrifying than losing a job, watching the stock market tank or even becoming victim of a terrorist attack.

One solution to the healthcare cost dilemma is going global--what some are calling "medical tourism." Most financial advisors seem unaware that traveling abroad for medical care can often save a patient 80% or even 90% off the U.S. sticker price. Once alerted, however, they tend to take sharp notice.

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