The other day I perused the Medical Tourism Association and found a ton of information for those in the market for reasonably priced medical care. The site even lists visa requirements, hotels and other tour package necessities.
I’m not a doctor but here’s what I know about traveling to other countries for medical procedures, especially those not covered by insurance.
My husband flew to Pretoria, South Africa for lasik surgery at the Pretoria Eye Institute. Though the Institute caters to tour groups, my husband was able to go on his own and found the cost 50% cheaper than in the US. We included a mini safari beforehand and had a great time. It’s now ten years later, and he’s never looked back.
India wants medical tourism business. My husband and I, plus several friends, did a full cardiology work-up for a very reasonable cost. The doctors were US trained and thorough. One friend in his early 50s learned that he needed a by-pass soon. After a second opinion, he got the surgery that may have saved his life. At another facility I had two MRI’s with the latest equipment and paid about $100 a piece. Probably a tenth of the US cost at that time, seven years ago.
My only hesitation about medical care in India—based on personal experience—is that there is a shortage of nurses, and so many are not well trained. Anyone who needs a procedure involving critical nursing care should investigate fully.
It seems more and more couples are looking toward in vitro fertilization to start their families, but the costs are prohibitive in the US, and couples are often faced with years of loan repayments. Many countries offer IVF for about $5,000-$7,000. My friend had the procedure in Jordan four years ago and returned last year to try for a second child.
The Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok comes highly recommended from many friends. The city has long been a center of cosmetic surgery, and this hospital specializes in it. But I’ve also had friends fly in from India for physicals, cardiology, and regular surgery. Newsweek called Bumrungrad one of the top ten medical destinations. A 60 Minutes interview with the hospital's American CEO revealed that patients get state-of-the–art care at about one-eighth the cost. Next time you’re traveling through Asia, you might want to drop by for a face lift or a colonoscopy!
And that’s the beauty of medical tourism. For less than the cost of surgery in the US, you can have a treatment and a great vacation, too.