What you need to know about medical tourism?

by Jenilee Matz, M.P.H. ,  14wfie.com | 2009-04-29

You need a medical procedure but can't afford it. You learn that you can have this procedure done for a fraction of the cost in another country. Better yet, you can have it done at a beautiful resort in a tropical destination. But before you buy your plane ticket, there are some things you need to know about medical tourism.

What is medical tourism?
When someone travels to another country to have a medical procedure done it's called medical tourism. In 2006, about half a million people went to foreign countries for health procedures. Cost of surgeries and treatments may be much less - 20 percent to 80 percent less in some cases - in other countries than in the U.S. People may choose medical tourism if:

  • They do not have medical insurance
  • Their medical insurance won't cover the procedure
  • The procedure is not offered in the U.S.
  • There is a long wait time to have surgery      

There are many medical tourism companies. Some companies sell travel packages so your health procedure can be part of a vacation. Some health insurance companies offer specialized insurance policies that pay for health care overseas.

Common medical tourism procedures include:

  • Heart surgery
  • Knee replacements
  • Plastic surgery
  • Infertility treatments
  • Dental surgery

Some popular destinations for medical tourism include:

  • Thailand
  • India
  • Singapore
  • Mexico

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