Medical tourism makes the news again

Here’s a story about a woman who saved 20,000 on some facial cosmetic surgery by getting it done in Mexico.

We know that medical tourism is a growing trend and we know that sometimes it is risky (not that it isn’t risky in the US as well). Naturally, US doctors say that it is riskier to travel abroad:

But Dr. Carl Lentz, a Daytona Beach plastic surgeon, said he is skeptical of the quality of care in operations that cater to overseas patients. He said he treated a patient who went to Costa Rica for surgery and came back with a saliva gland draining down her face.

In this case the woman had a personal recommendation from a friend who had used the same Mexican doctor which removes some concern. Doing your research would help relieve some concerns as well. But here are other issues.

The article I’m linking to here says that you can’t sue for malpractice when you get work done overseas. They also say many doctors in the US refuse to give patients follow-up treatment. Supposedly there are liability issues but it seems to me that US doctors are refusing to treat sick people – it just seems wrong.

One scary thing the article mentions is that insurance companies might start sending people abroad to save money:

The lower charges for medical service outside the United States could present a new wrinkle in the relationship between U.S. medical providers and insurance companies as companies look for cheaper ways to pay for their employees’ health care. It could mean your insurance company puts you on a plane to Thailand for the next heart valve replacement or you leave your gall bladder in India.

I don’t like this, but now the insurance companies seem to try to avoid paying at all, basically leaving people to die if their treatment costs too much. I’m reminded of the cancer patient who was denied treatment and pain killers.

I’m not sure how exactly, but I guess this will tie in somehow with the whole problem of unemployment and health insurance we have in America.

Filed Under: Medical tourism

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  1. Terrell says:

    I have twice considered medical treatment overseas and may consider it again. Both times that I considered the procedure I was able to find treatment in the States for comparable total expense (considering costs of travel, hotels, visas, etc). I did have to travel to receive affordable treatment, but not such a great distance. (it is notable that one of the procedures I received here in the States was not successful, had I undergone the same overseas, I would have likely blamed their lower quality care)

    I have medical insurance but it has a high deductible and should the need arise (God forbid) I can easily imagine that I may have to travel overseas for future treatment.

    My wife is currently considering an elective procedure overseas as the cost here in the States exceeds $15k, and the cost to travel and receive treatment overseas will be about 1/3 of that sum. She has less concern about the quality of treatment than I as she is returning to her country of birth for treatment and she will have a support system already in place, thats something that most of us would miss in a similar situation.

  2. cathleen says:

    After a fall, I need to get verneers on my 4 front teeth. I am thinking of doing this outside of the US. My dentist says that they are not so skilled in Mexico as in the USA. Does anyone have any information on verneers outside of the USA? The cost is why I would consider going to Mexico, it is $900.00@ here in USA.

  3. marta says:

    I am an American and have been living in France several years. Both grown my children are living in States. They are unable to get insurance for themselves or children. They have not had a medical check up for at least 7 years , they only take children when absolutly necessary and then have to make payments. Some doctors refuse to see then with no insurance !!! In France ALL my medical coverage is 100% FREE !!! Hospital, all medicines, vision ( one check up and pair of glasses per year)and dental checkups are free also. Just had a tooth filled……no charge. However there is a small fee for caps or such. Doctors still make home visits and appointments are on time. I am retired and can not afford at this point in my life to live in the USA.

    Anyone that has not see SICKO by Michael Moore should do so ASAP. SO TRUE !!!

  4. Myrna says:

    I am an immigrant citizen.51 years old filipina it is very sad to hear all this comment.I been in the US for almost 16 years.I choose to be a CNA and a nurse for geriatric patients.I Provide care but guess What?I don’t have have Dental insurance

    I was recently diagnosed with cardiomegally (abnormal enlargement of the heart.)I did research

    of my condition,and I believe it is because of my teeth problem so I went to the doctor and ask if he could request for my insurance to pay for my dental needs.He did but my insurance refused to cover for the expense.I can’t afford $3,500.00 to have a full dentures.Willing to make payments for half of the price..My point is why don’t they cover this expense? when they can save my life for having further problems with my heart? less expense.Well I guess I am just a Statistics just like the rest..So my last resort was to go back to my country of birth.

  5. Dan says:

    I have a lot to say both about the blog and the comments. Firstly, the movie “SICKO” is a plea for Socialism in our country — pure and simple — no two ways about it. The movie basically lied about the Canadian, British or other Socialist country’s medicine. I used to live in Holland and I can tell you how it works. It’s free allright, but ONLY if they can afford to give it to as many patients who are requiring it. That’s why major surgeries have massive waiting lines and why the richer will go to a foreign country to get the job done. So many Canadians come to the US and “SICKO” didn’t tell the truth about that. I don’t know how it can possibly escape a thinking person’s mind that SOMEONE has to pay whether it’s a tax payer or a patient. And the Cuban system was two places lower than the US!!! LOL!

    Secondly, domestic doctors are going to say just about anything to preserve their practices, and I do think they’re going to have to do something to save their practices and I’ll say why later. The truth is going to come from first hand experiences and published prices, etc., and the market is going to be driven by the people for a change instead of the people being driven by what ever the market will bear!

    Thirdly, not only have I tried medical tourism’s hospitals, but I’ve sampled three of them and will be going again. I have tasted renal, dental and eye care in India for which I cannot say enough good. The reason I got to find out about this is from three American guys who also live in Bombay, India who started a medical tourism company some time ago. So far to date, they have never advertised except by word of mouth. Their services are completely FREE. They are keenly interested in helping Americans feel at home and they speak American English. They’ve spent over 20 cumulative years there.

    They are primarily interested in those accredited hospitals who have seals of approval from the likes of JCI, Harvard Medical International, International Standards Organization and Cleveland Clinic. And they know exactly what kind of care, etc., that we Americans want. I’m happy to tell you who they are: America’s Medical Solutions at

    Not only did I save a BUNDLE, but my experience was profound enough that I’m glad to sing the praises of India’s medical tourism. I will be returning for a hip resurfacing when it gives out … which unfortunately is going to happen. But there’s no better place in the world to be treated. They have done thousands of them in over four years which is only just now starting in the States.

    Anyway, everything you have heard about five star suites as a hospital room is true. Everything is there except the mini-bar. 🙂 Even the house keeping staffs in each of the hospitals I’ve been in are keenly interested in you as a person and in your health. It’s not phony interest either. They are truly happy to talk to a foreigner and genuinely interested in your suffering and what they can do to alleviate it. They will let you talk their ears off, they will know your kids names and you will know theirs, and when you leave, you’ll feel like you’re leaving some of your family. If you think about it, they’ve seen you in your all together, etc., at the very worst time of your life, and they have seen you as a person they loved and cared intimately for. It’s impossible not to return the sentiment. I’ve never seen this kind of personal care at any of the many hospitals I’ve been in here at home.

    I believe it’s essential to use a medical tourism company to help you with the ropes. All the blogs I’ve read seem to be saying the same thing, because without them you really don’t know where to go and who to see. They too have a reputation to keep. And if you want to do any touring as I have done, they have been there and done that and you get first hand advice. I’ve been privileged to see quite a bit of the country from Goa to Musoori, which means the white sandy beaches to the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas. Fantastic! And India is the one country in the world which has more character and charm than all the others combined.

    In hunting for a good medical tourism company, don’t just chose one that has a pretty web site. Anyone can do that. But chose one who gives you their services for free, and who lets you know exactly where they live. They get paid from the hospitals and it doesn’t cost you one dime extra from the hospitals either to use their services. Hospitals are glad to give up some of their profits to get the business.

    In short, forget India’s incredibly lows costs for the moment. I’m talking about the best medical services and personal human care in the world. Their medicine might be matched elsewhere but they cannot be beat! Throw price into the picture and you can afford to throw the kids on the plane and take them with you.


  6. wally says:

    Hey Marta:

    No such thing as a free lunch. Who do you think pays for your medical care? Or is it just paid by magic?

  7. Natalie says:

    If you are going to go down the cosmetic surgery road…check out What I liked the most was that my profile remained anynomyous until I was ready to decide what to do. I received replies from four surgeons that met all the things I was looking for. I liked having that complete control without the sales pressure that some of these places can be known for. Check them out. Better to be safe than sorry.

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