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Travel For Care featured in ABC Eyewitness News

New York, March 17th, 2011

VIDEO Aired on 3-17-11





NEW YORK (WABC) -- Brian Meehan often joked with his clients about getting a little work done.

When the Chelsea hair stylist decided to go under the knife he turned to travel for care.

A sort of "medical travel agent" who helped him find a plastic surgeon in Monterrey, Mexico.

"It was like something out of 'Nip Tuck'. It was state of art. It was contemporary. I couldn't believe what I walked into," Meehan said.

He's what's called a medical tourist.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans travel each year to countries like India, Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand for less expensive treatments for simple and complex procedures.

"It's a huge, huge difference. I got liposuction to my neck, a neck lift and then I got the top of my eyelids done. Up here you're looking at $16,000 to $20,000. Down there, the total ended up being $5,000. That also included fillers and BOTOX," medical tourist Christopher Stanley said.

it's not just plastic surgery.

Josef Woodman, author of 'Patients Beyond Borders', says it's everything from transplants to dental work.

"If you have a choice to save $5,000, $10,000, sometimes $50,000 or $80,000 that might be the difference between having to sell your home or business or sending your kid to school or not," Woodman said.

An estimated 540,000 people traveled out of the United States for care last year. Woodman says that the number one reason people don't get care is cost.

Doctor Matthew Weissman of the Ryan Nena Community Health Center says there's no right or wrong answer. He says it's a matter of doing your homework.

"Even getting medical care in the U.S. you have to do your research. Who's the doctor? Who's the hospital? Organizations like the Joint Commission which accredits us here at the Ryan Nena Community Health Center and hospitals in the U.S. also have an international branch," Weissman said.

But are Americans ready to trade in their insurance cards for their passports?

"There's nothing wrong with it. There's no stigma with foreign doctors. They're certainly as qualified. It's xenophobic to think that doctors from other countries are worse than ours," a man who would only identify himself by the name Christian said.

"I don't know if you can put a cost on your life," Cathy Monepeluso said.

Brian Meehan is happy with his results.

He says his before and after pictures speak for themselves.

(Copyright ©2011 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


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