The popularity of medical tourism is increasing exponentially as people seek lower prices for medical procedures. Increasing insurance premiums coupled with decreasing employer based insurance, means that more Americans are looking outside the United States for healthcare needs. In 2010 the number of Americans leaving the country for medical treatment is projected to reach six million – a 700% jump since 2007 according to Deloitte research.
What is out there? In addition to recommendations from family and friends, people desiring overseas medical treatment can now go to the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) to figure out which hospitals to work with, what legal issues they will have to overcome in aftercare and to find a partner who will help put it all together. MTA recently created a certification program specifically to educate the US insurance industry.
Survey (2009 numbers):
What type of procedure did you travel for? Spine: 2% Cosmetic: 12% Orthopedic: 22% Weight Loss: 31% Other: 33%
Did you have health insurance when you traveled for care? Yes: 41.5% No 58.5%
Would you recommend international medical travel? Yes: 92.7% Maybe: 7.3% No: 0%
Procedure surgery cost based in US dollars:
Heart bypass: US 130k / India 9.3k / Thailand 11k / Singapore 16.5k / Costa Rica 24k / South Korea 34.2k / New Zealand 31k
Heart-valve replacement: US 160k / India 9k / Thailand 10k / Singapore 12.5k / Costa Rica 15k / South Korea 29.5k / New Zealand 29k Hysterectomy: US 20k / India 6k / Thailand 4.5k / Singapore 6k / Costa Rica 4k / South Korea 12.7k / New Zealand 9.9k
Knee replacement: US 40k / India 8.5k / Thailand 10k / Singapore 11k / Costa Rica 11.1k / South Korea 24k / New Zealand 15k
Here are things to consider before leaving the US for surgery:
• Consult your local physician about your plans • Check the foreign hospital’s accreditations • Research the doctor treating you • Review hospital data • Avoid communication barriers • Use a medical-tourism company • Travel with a companion • Do not rush it
Where to learn more:
• Visit Good Neighbor Insurance at www.gninsurance.com/travel-A/international_travel_insurance.asp for travel or long term career plans for evacuation and health care plans that will cover any non-pre-existing medical conditions while you are overseas.
• American Medical Association: This agency released guidelines on medical travel last year (2008).
• Medical Tourism Association: This non-profit organization vets medical tourism companies, offers tips for patients, works with internationally based hospitals, and monitors industry trends at www.medicaltourismassociation.com .
• Joint Commission International: The independent agency has accredited and certified health-care organizations in 33 countries, using US standards of care at www.jointcommissioninternational.org .
Doug Gulleson loves to scuba dive overseas and he makes sure he always takes his Amex card AND international travel insurance. Visit Good Neighbor Insurance at www.gninsurance.com for your next overseas trip and get a FREE quote.