Complex surgery is the latest service to move offshore – and clever businesses are helping cost-conscious patients go under the knife overseas.
This year alone, upwards of 500,000 Americans are expected to travel overseas to get their bodies fixed, at prices 30 to 80 percent less than at home.
Medical tourism, as the practice is known, is rapidly becoming the top choice for consumers who grapple with hefty medical bills.
With places like Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, India, the Philippines, and Thailand pitching their low-cost care, Americans are expected to help turn global medical tourism into a $40 billion-a-year industry by 2010.
The overseas stampede is already spawning a brand-new business opportunity: medical tourism agencies. Not only do these companies act as middlemen between patients and foreign physicians, but they also find hospitals, schedule surgeries, buy airline tickets, reserve hotel rooms, and, yes, even plan sightseeing tours for recovering patients.
Most important, they aim to reassure customers that cheap does not equal poor quality.
Photo by adamci.