Breana Williams, 28, of Fresno, California, has comprehensive health care coverage, but when she began looking into fertility treatments to start a family, she was floored by the out-of-pocket cost.
So while some friends in her shoes started seeking a job at a U.S. company offering to offset or cover the cost of fertility care for their employees, and others took out second mortgages on their homes to pay the medical bills, Williams had another thought: Mexico.
Thus began Williams’ journey down and up the California coast to Tijuana, where she received three rounds of in vitro fertilization treatment for a fraction of the price quoted to her at home. The initial round cost $3,500 and $1,000 for medication, and each round after that was just $1,500 before the cost of medication. In the States, she was quoted roughly $20,000 for just one round.
Each year, millions of U.S. residents travel outside of the country for medical procedures that cost far less than what they’d pay in the United States. And the medical tourism industry is bracing for a new surge of medical travelers in 2023 as health care costs at home continue to rise.
People are also reading…
Medical tourism first took hold decades ago, when wealthy people, mostly women, began traveling for expensive cosmetic treatments. Now medical tourism includes everything from dental implants to knee replacements.
Before you consider traveling outside the United States for a medical procedure, investigate the quality of care. Making decisions based on price alone might easily land you in harm’s way from infection or some other complication.
Stick with accredited facilities, says Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, a medical tourism consulting agency. Where you find reputable, affordable facilities, you’ll also find even cheaper clinics that set up shop next door looking to entice clients with less-expensive, inferior care, he says.
Dental care is one of the most popular procedures on the medical tourism list. If you’re going to travel for dentistry, make sure that the dentist is board certified — or, at the very least, is a member of the American Dental Association or the International Association of Cosmetic Dentists.
As for other types of care, look for hospitals that are accredited by Joint Commission International. There are now well over 1,000 JCI-accredited hospitals in the world, and they all follow standards that assure good hygiene practices as well as industry standard preoperative and postoperative care. You can find lists of board-certified plastic surgeons internationally at https://find.plasticsurgery.org.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides guidance for Americans who travel abroad for medical care, including the recommendations to see your health care provider at home in advance to discuss your plans and the potential risks; buy traveler’s health insurance that will cover medical evacuation; and understand the physical limitations your planned procedure will impose while you’re recuperating.
The CDC also warns of other complications, such as language barriers, and the risk of infectious disease and antibiotic-resistant infections, which might be more prevalent in foreign countries. Plus, flying after surgery can be perilous because it often increases the risk of blood clots. For complete CDC guidance on medical tourism, visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/medical-tourism.
Leave a Reply