For Americans, the most common drive to travel abroad to get medical treatments is saving money. But chasing a cost savings is not strictly something that happens only in the United States. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans flying or driving to Mexico for dental treatments or cosmetic work, but at the same time, Swiss, Germans and Austrians are also traveling abroad to places like Poland, Czech Republic or Hungary to get treatments that are not covered by their universal health care plans. Similar to that, over in Asia, people from Singapore are often crossing the border into the nearby Malaysia in order to avoid the rising cost of care, while Japanese patients travel to South Korea to save on cosmetic surgery and other procedures. This list goes on and on.
Some Expected Savings Listed By Country and Procedure
An American going to Costa Rica to get a treatment, it can be expected to get a savings in the range between 45 to 65 percent. Traveling to India can result in savings being in the range between 65 and 90 percent, Malaysia between 60 to 80 percent, Mexico between 40 to 60 percent, Singapore between 25 to 40 percent, South Korea 40 to 45 percent and Thailand anywhere between 50 to 75 percent.
For instance, a coronary artery bypass graft can cost up to $88,000 in the United States. That exact same procedure costs $31,500 in Costa Rica, $37,800 in Mexico, $54,500 in Singapore, $20,800 in Malaysia, $29,000 in South Korea, $23,000 in Thailand and $14,400 in India.
Another example is in vitro fertilization or IVF which costs around $15,000 in the United States. The same procedure costs $7,800 in Mexico, $7,500 in South Korea, $6,500 in Thailand, $7,200 in Malaysia, $9,450 in Singapore and a mere $3,300 in India. Closer to the US, the Barbados Fertilicy Centre, a JCI-accredited facility offers around 50 percent savings in a relaxing, low-stress Caribbean setting.
When it comes to cosmetic surgery like a nose job, it will cost you about $6,500 in the US. That same procedure costs $3,600 in Malaysia, $4,700 in South Korea, $4,300 in Thailand, $4,750 in Singapore, $3,400 in Costa Rica and only $2,800 in India and Mexico.
It is important to note that these costs are for treatments only, which also includes staying in a private room in the hospital. Your budget and travel preferences will decide what the airfare and hotel will cost you. In order to get a rough estimate of the costs, add about &5,000 for you and your companion if you choose to fly coach and stay in a hotel that goes for about $150 per night. Adding these costs, for instance, would make in vitro fertilization in India cost about $8,300, which still saves you $6,700, which is a massive savings compared to the prices over in the United States.
The $6,000 Rule
According to our research, it is estimated that if you are quoted a price of $6,000 or more for a treatment by a US specialist (this includes consultations, cost of the treatment and staying in the hospital), there is a very good chance that at least one if not several other foreign countries can offer that same procedure and quality for noticably less, even when you factor in the travel and accomodation expenses. If the estimated quote is below $6,000, you may want to consider staying at home and undergoing the procedure there.
Of course, you may want to adjust this rule in order to match your lifestyle preferences and your financial abilities. In some cases, a few hundred dollars they might save may not be worth the hassle of having to travel to a distant country to undergo a procedure. Others may see it as a chance to experience a new culture and perhaps sample a different cuisine.
What to Ask When Choosing a Treatment Center
During the planning phase, while you’re still considering a treatment facility or doctor, make sure you request the cost details in writing or via email. This list should include pricing for basic treatment as well as any additional treatments that may be needed as well as room fees, anesthesia, prescribed medication, nursing services and more. If the list doesn’t contain these items, make sure you ask about these specifics. Furthermore, you need to get the answers to the following questions:
Are the meals included in my hospital stay?
Can my companion get a bed in my room?
If the need arises, how much is a second consultation?
Are there any additional costs for a Wi-Fi connection in my room?
If you are using a health travel agency, make sure that your agent gets specific answers to these questions as they’re extremely important. They should also get a solid cost estimate for the treatment itself as well as any extras mentioned above.
It is natural to notice that the best doctors in foreign health facilities are also the busiest. If you’re aiming to get the most qualified doctors and the best care you can afford, make sure you choose your treatment facility at least three months ahead of time in order to give your physician of choice a chance to find a slot in their schedule. Furthermore, booking a flight way ahead of time will also get you better deals on airfare. As such, make sure you start looking into airlines around the same time as you’re looking for a suitable healthcare facility.
Following these simple guidelines will ensure that you realize maximum savings and best possible results for your medical trip abroad.