Ginger Rough ,
The Arizona Republic |
PHOENIX — Bob Light's prosthetic hip was eight years overdue for a
replacement last summer. He couldn't work, was in constant pain and
needed a cane to walk.
So the 55-year-old Cottonwood resident decided he could wait no longer.
He called hospitals in Arizona, Texas and California. The hip
replacement, he was told, would cost between $80,000 and $140,000,
depending on the amount of bone deterioration surgeons found.
Eventually, Light hit on a better deal — in New Zealand.
He paid $20,000, including travel and lodging, for the surgery at
a private Auckland-area hospital. The replacement was done Dec. 5, and
he was home by Christmas.
Light, who owns a small landscaping business, is among a growing
number of Americans who have become international medical tourists.
They are traveling outside the United States to obtain health care
either to save money or pursue higher-quality treatment.
"I was extremely worried. I had never been out of the (U.S.)
before," Light said. "But it couldn't have been better if the doctors
Officials in the medical-tourism industry say stories of botched
surgeries and treatments are rare among their clients, although there
is little hard data comparing quality of care among overseas hospitals.