When the pain in Karen Stocking's right knee worsened several years ago to the point that it became difficult for her to walk, she decided to consult with an orthopedic surgeon for treatment options. That's when the real agony began.
Stocking, a 55-year-old uninsured retiree from Spokane, Wash., was shocked to learn it would cost her nearly $35,000 for a total knee replacement.
"I was appalled by what [the hospital and my orthopedic surgeon] wanted to charge me," she said. "It didn't bother me that my surgeon wanted $150 just to walk in the door for an office visit, nor did I have a problem paying $80 apiece for X-rays. But I was offended that he wanted to charge me $5,000 for a one-hour surgical procedure, and that it would cost me $27,500 for a three-day stay in the hospital."
A co-worker suggested she consider getting the procedure done overseas.
"I work with a gal who had just come back from Thailand from having some cosmetic surgery done," Stocking said. "She came back with a whole knew body, and it cost her less than $15,000. She recommended that I look into it."