The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2010 travel health guide has a much-expanded section on medical tourism — the practice of going abroad for your medical care. U.S. citizens going overseas for medical or dental procedures often cite lower costs as their primary motivator.
The CDC updates its Health Information for International Travel (also called the “Yellow Book”) every two years. The latest edition discusses the pros and cons of medical tourism, and explains why the practice is on the rise.
“In recent years, standards have been rising in other parts of the world even faster than prices have surged in the U.S. Many physicians abroad trained in the U.S. and the Joint Commission International (JCI) applies strict standards to accreditation of offshore facilities. Those facilities use the same implants, supplies, and drugs as their U.S. counterparts. However, a heart bypass in Thailand costs $11,000 compared to as much as $130,000 in the U.S. Spinal fusion surgery in India at $5,500 compares to over $60,000 in the U.S.”
The CDC guide quotes the American Medical Associations tip for planning a surgery abroad:
–Patients should check to see if the medical facilities abroad have been accredited by recognized international accrediting bodies such as the Joint Commission International or the International Society for Quality in Health Care.
– Prior to travel, arrange local follow-up care to ensure continuity of care when you return from medical care outside the US