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...Their reasons range from wanting access to higher quality and more advanced technologies (typical of patients from developing countries traveling to the US), to needing quicker access (common in Europeans and Canadians), to requiring far less expensive treatments (US patients going abroad). Today, this constitutes an unstoppable trend that is gaining additional acceptance as patients from all over the world find more and better options for their healthcare needs in places they never thought possible. In the case of Americans looking for excellent but affordable medical or dental procedures, neighboring countries have shown to have private healthcare system facilities which offer very high quality care at great value. Tens of thousands of happy U.S. patients later, Americans are changing the way they see healthcare abroad.

What Medical Travel is Not


While some patients can probably merge their overseas healthcare trip with a few extra days of sightseeing or leisure, a medical traveler needs to bear in mind that health comes first. Even if a destination might be attractive from a leisure point of view, patients seriously looking for top-notch care and successful results might want to prioritize their destination, timing, and activities accordingly. Furthermore, post-operation guidelines usually require patient follow-up visits, rest, or other requests like no sunbathing which mostly rule out an active vacation trip. Therefore, medical travel should not be mistaken with a leisurely trip to exotic destinations.  Instead, it should be understood as an important decision that fulfills an individual’s healthcare needs.

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You can save a lot. See the difference


The difference in prices abroad compared to the U.S. depends on the specific medical procedure and the destination you choose. In general and comparing the same procedures, prices in select destinations abroad might be between 50% to 80% lower than in the U.S.  Although you will find value in cosmetic and other elective treatments, high price-tag procedures or treatments usually carry the greatest savings. Even factoring in all travel, accommodations, meals, transportation, and phone calls for the patient and companions, medical travel makes a lot of sense. For destinations close to the U.S., the travel and living expenses component can be even smaller and therefore lower the price of various procedures like dental, vision, and non-invasive cosmetic.

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Less Expensive “Absolutely” does not mean Less Quality


There are three main reasons why healthcare in the United States is significantly more expensive than abroad.

First, no other country has a legal system where lawsuits are so common and so drastic than the U.S. This has led American healthcare practitioners and institutions to pay malpractice insurance premiums which can easily exceed one hundred thousand dollars/year per doctor, nurse, technician, and many times that amount for Hospitals. Although foreign doctors and clinics have medical malpractice insurance as well, their costs are a tiny fraction of that amount.

Second, the cost of labor, construction, supplies, drugs, energy, taxes, and almost everything other than high technology equipment is generally higher in the U.S.

Third, administrative aspects like paperwork, insurance collections, receivables, bad debt, and compliance are a larger cost burden for U.S. healthcare providers.

Bearing in mind that healthcare price levels abroad are lower than in the US, it is extremely important to point out that even if a medical traveler might be looking for value, it can easily reach out to the very top doctors and institutions. The best doctors in developing countries typically speak English, most have studied, trained and worked in the US or Europe, and some are even U.S. board certified. The best hospitals typically have world-class facilities, the latest technology, and procedures that have made them earn local and international certifications such as the Joint Commission International Gold Seal. Learn more about the Joint Commission  by visiting  http://www.jointcommission.org/AboutUs/ and about the Gold Seal of Approval at http://www.jointcommission.org/QualityCheck/qcd_value.

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Treatments worth going abroad for


Although procedures sought by medical travelers fall mostly within the cosmetic, obesity, dental, vision, orthopedic, and cardiovascular fields, most non-emergency and elective procedures can also be done away from home. Uninsured or underinsured patients might find a great answer to the huge costs of knee, hip, and heart surgery, cancer treatment, and other general surgeries and therapies saving themselves from financial ruin without sacrificing quality care. Individuals looking for obesity surgeries will also find prices to be less than half while enjoying the same advanced technology and safety records. Cosmetic procedures have a relatively low price tag and therefore in order for savings not to be offset by large travel expenses, destinations close to the U.S. are ideal. Dental, vision (refractive), and non-invasive cosmetic procedures are in the low end of costs, and therefore make sense for medical travelers that can drive to their destination (the Southern California and Texas population), or which manage to combine several procedures in order to save.

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