America's First Newsletter for the Medical Traveler

Washable keyboards and mice


My Medical Tourism Experience

International Hospital Makes Treatment Costs Available to Public

How the Economy is Affecting Medical Tourism

Repairing the Heart

Surgery Overseas... Through Your Health Plan?

Hot Spot Destinations
South Africa
El Salvador

Latest News in Medical Travel

Hot Spot Destinations

South Africa

Popular cosmetic surgery destination, especially among Europeans.

Procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and facelifts performed at about one-tenth the cost compared to the United States.

Patients can relax and recuperate in luxury accommodations in a warm climate

For more information on medical travel to South Africa, visit


Three hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI).

One of the newest destinations to tap into medical tourism.

Fully-trained doctors available in many specialties, including urology, pediatrics, cosmetic, oncology, and neurosurgery.

If you would like to learn more about medical tourism to Taiwan, visit

El Salvador

A popular destination for dental tourism, El Salvador also offers certain cosmetic surgery and ophthalmology procedures.

Many specialists are U.S. board-certified and fluent in English.

Various national parks and ancient ruins for sight-seeing before and after your procedure.

Visit for more information on medical tourism in El Salvador.

Latest news in medical tourism:

Insurer Offers Option for Surgery in India
Nov. 21 - The New York Times
The health insurer WellPoint Inc. is testing a new program that gives covered patients the option of going to India for elective surgery, with no out-of-pocket medical costs and free travel for both the patient and a companion.

Abu Dhabi Unveils Medical Tourism Plan
Nov. 20 - Focus on Travel News
Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has revealed an ambitious strategy of medical tourism in Abu Dhabi.

More Publicity Essential for Medical Tourism
Nov. 20 - The Korea Times
An increase in international recognition of Korea's medical talent is essential for attracting  more medical tourists, a survey showed Thursday.

Facilities strained as medical tourism takes off
Nov. 20 - Business Daily
Inside the operating theaters of Kenya's main hospitals, the possibility of a local surgeon operating on  a foreigner is quite high.

Scalpel Safari - Medical Tourism in Africa
Nov. 17 -
Medical tourism is becoming big business for a few countries in Africa, namely South Africa, Egypt, and Tunisia. According to a recent article in the New York Times, more than 6 million Americans are expected to travel abroad for medical treatment by 2010.

Now, medical tourism is on the wane
Nov. 17 - Daily News & Analysis
Signs of the economic meltdown affecting the booming medical tourism industry in India have begun to emerge. Providers of medical tourism claim that demand for non emergency surgeries  has gone down this year.

Medical Tourism
Nov. 17 -
The concept is enticing: hospitals in exotic locales are advertising packages for patients needing surgery that include personal medical attention in luxury rooms, airfare, and the chance to enjoy a vacation  - all for a fraction of the cost of the same surgery in their home country.

South Korea Joins Lucrative Practice of Inviting Medical Tourists to Its Hospitals
Nov. 15 - New York Times
In Seoul's Apgujeong-dong district, famous for its high-end boutiques and plastic surgeons, tourist buses unload Chinese and Japanese visitors looking for a nip and tuck as part of their packaged tour.

WellPoint to launch medical tourism pilot program
Nov. 12 - BusinessWeek
Health insurer WellPoint Inc. will dabble in medical tourism next year when it launches a pilot program that sends patients to India for some surgeries.

Anthem, Serigraph unveil 'medical tourism' health plan
Nov. 12 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Serigraph Inc., a specialty printer in West Bend, Ind., soon will be offering its employees expense-paid vacations for two to a foreign country. The only catch is that one of them must undergo surgery while there.

Third of El Pasoans get medical care in Juárez
Nov. 12 - El Paso Times
El Pasoan Luis Alvarado pays cash for his doctor visits and medicines in Juárez, Mexico.
"I don't have health insurance, so I see doctors in Juárez whenever I get sick, and buy whatever medications I'm prescribed at the pharmacies there," said Alvarado, 28.

Medical Tourism is Here
Nov. 12 -
It was only a matter of time before health costs in the United States rose so high that we would outsource healthcare. The time  for medical tourism has arrived.

Two local insurers pitching 'medical tourism'
Nov. 12 - Indianapolis Business Journal
Medical tourism is getting the attention of two Indianapolis-area insurance companies. Carmel-based Seven Corners announced yesterday that it will offer coverage for medical complications if they arise during or after a trip overseas to receive surgery. Seven Corners claims it is the first insurer to offer such coverage.

WellPoint will try out 'medical tourism'
Nov. 12 - The Indianapolis Star
Are you in need of a new knee? WellPoint is testing the concept of arranging and paying for you and a companion to travel to India for a joint-replacement procedure that could cost a fraction of what it would cost at your local hospital.

Medical Tourism: The Insurance Debate
Nov. 9 - Business Week
Twenty years ago, an American needing knee surgery probably wouldn't think of jetting off to India for the operation. But times keep changing, health insurance costs keep rising, and Kumar Jagadeesan can cite a statistic that has led many patients to jump aboard a plane.

Medical Tourism: Surviving the Global Recession
Nov. 9 - Business Week
Like many medical centers in Asia, Bangkok's Bumrungrad Hospital had big expectations for a global trend known as medical tourism. Administrators were especially eager to attract more patients from the United States (, 3/17/08) keen on saving money by having hip replacements, cosmetic surgery, and other operations overseas.

A Big Leap Towards Medical Tourism
Nov. 8 - Khaleej Times
The Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is all set to become an international hub for medical tourism in the near future, as all the major health care projects are nearing their completion dates, said Dr. Ayesha Abdullah, chief executive officer of the Centre for Healthcare Planning and Quality at the DHCC.

Little City, Big Health: Medical Tourists Coming to Rockford
Nov. 5 - WREX-TV
You may never have heard of medical tourism, but that could change in coming months. It's a multi-billion-dollar business in which patients leave home to seek healthcare in other parts of the country or the world. One organization here in Rockford hopes to cash in on the growing trend.

Recession: A blessing in disguise for medical tourism
Nov. 5 - Daily News & Analysis
Well before the credit crisis rocked the American economy and the world, Michigan-based Jill Howard (name changed) made up her mind to visit India during the Christmas holidays this year for a joint replacement surgery. The 58-year-old engineer had planned to visit India for her surgery because she knew that the cost would be much lower there compared to the same procedure in the United States.

Medical Tourism Providers Want to Show Your Clients the World
Nov. 3 - National Underwriter Life and Health
The players in the medical tourism industry are trying to show your individual clients-and the health insurers and employers' groups you work with-that they can provide top-quality care at rock-bottom prices.

Cutting-edge care can give overseas facilities an edge
Nov. 2 - Los Angeles Times
Low cost isn't the only reason Americans are traveling to foreign countries for healthcare. Timmi Ryerson of Vista, Calif., went abroad looking for expertise she couldn't find at home.

Where to go to do your own research
Nov. 2 - Los Angeles Times
Resources for medical travelers

Senior Traveler: Go for surgery, stay for scenery
Nov. 2 - Philadelphia Inquirer
With winter weather about to invade, seniors start thinking about tropical climes. But suppose your cranky knee once again puts your vacation on hold until you can schedule a joint-replacement operation, which may be months down the road.

Booming trend is standard medical procedure
Nov. 2 - The Miami Herald
Next time you grumble over talking to someone in India about your flight from Dallas to Des Moines, consider that the next big area of outsourcing might be your healthcare.

Cosmetic Surgery on Cyprus
Nov. 2 - The Sunday Times
When Londoner Georgina Michael leaves Larnaca, a piece of her will remain behind, a tiny part that will be forever Cyprus. Actually, it's quite a large part - 11lbs. 7oz., to be precise, which is the weight of the swathe of yellow fat stretching from her bikini line to her ribcage, removed in a cosmetic procedure that has given the 37-year-old the stomach of a starlet.

Ratings to prepare for medical tourism bid
Nov. 1 - The National
Doctors and hospitals are to be given performance ratings as part of plans to make the United Arab Emirates a destination for medical tourists. The Ministry of Health announced the ratings system will be based on stars similar to those awarded to hotels, enabling people to see which professionals or clinics rate highest or provide the best treatment for particular procedures or operations. The results will be displayed online.

Star Hospitals Launches Sophisticated Medical Tourism Web Site
Oct. 31 - International Business Times
Star Hospitals (, a North American medical tourism service, is helping millions worldwide gain access to high quality, timely, and affordable medical treatment overseas with the launch of its new Web site:

Get well soon - Love, C.R.
Oct. 31 - The Tico Times
Chuck Neudorf, from the U.S. city of Seattle, is combining his vacation to Costa Rica with a root canal. Although he is insured in the United States, he has exhausted his dental benefits for the year.

India becoming medical tourism hub
Oct. 29 - Treatment Abroad
India's medical tourism market is growing quickly thanks to its low treatment costs and large number of competing private companies, reports reveal.

Dear Medical Traveler,

Welcome to Your Medical Travel, your personal resource for tips and information on the newest opportunities in medical tourism.

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My Medical Tourism Experience

If you would like to share your medical tourism experience with our readers, please contact the Editor at

Lavanya / Canada
Ovarian cyst
Traveled to India for surgery

After being diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, Lavanya was told it would take approximately four to six months before she could have surgery to repair it - the result of long wait times for surgery under the Canadian health care system. Lavanya did some research and learned that she could undergo the procedure with a highly reputable surgeon almost immediately in India.

Lavanya and her husband traveled to India, where her procedure cost only $1,500. She recovered comfortably and was given a clean bill of health upon return to Canada.

For information on medical travel to India, visit

International Hospital Makes Treatment Costs Available to Public

Bumrungrad International Offers Free Online Access to Actual Costs of 45 Procedures

BANGKOK - Bumrungrad International, Southeast Asia's largest private hospital and one of the world's top medical travel destinations, has launched a unique online service to allow prospective patients to anticipate the costs of treatment. Called REALCOST, the service shows what Bumrungrad patients actually paid for more than 40 medical procedures at the hospital. REALCOST is on the hospital's website at

Until now, finding out what a medical procedure will cost has been difficult. Most    hospitals don't provide such information, and only a few do so online. Others give estimates that exclude significant items, such as doctors' fees, which patients must pay when leaving the hospital. Inquirers often have no way of knowing if the hospital's response is an 'average' or 'lowest possible' cost.

"It's difficult for both hospitals and patients," acknowledged Bumrungrad CEO Mack Banner. "You really can't make a good estimate until the doctor sees the patient and knows what treatment will be required. But patients want to get at least an approximate idea in advance to help them select a hospital and plan for the costs. We wanted to be transparent and helpful in this regard, and we think the way to do that is simply to show what our patients actually paid."

Created by an in-house team of developers and available free to the public on Bumrungrad's website (, REALCOST lists 45 procedures - surgeries such as appendectomy, heart bypass, hysterectomy, and knee replacement; and diagnostic procedures such as capsule endoscopy and colonoscopy. For each procedure, REALCOST shows information about the total bill patients paid upon leaving the hospital, including doctor fees, medication and supplies, and room costs for inpatient procedures. Inquiry results show three figures: a "low cost," which means only 1-in-4 patients paid less; a "median," which means half paid more, half less; and a "high cost," which was exceeded by only 1-in-4 patients who had the procedure.

Using a hip replacement as an example, REALCOST shows a low cost of 361,255 baht (US$10,940); a median cost of 413,717 baht (US$12,545); and a high cost of 447,648 baht (US$13,565). A website that helps uninsured Americans estimate U.S. hospital costs shows the average cost of a hip replacement as $39,299 in the United States.  

"Most patients will fall somewhere in the middle," says Banner. "We exclude both the highest and the lowest 25 percent from the results. Those cases are not typical so it would be misleading to suggest that your surgery would cost as much or as little as that. Of course, after you are evaluated by our specialists, we provide an estimate specific to your case. Then you still have a chance to decide whether to go ahead."  

REALCOST is currently based on full-year 2007 data. Bumrungrad plans to update its   database to keep REALCOST current and to add more procedures. Results can be displayed in any of 45 different currencies.
"Data transparency is such an important component of the contemporary health care   experience, empowering patients to make informed decisions," says Josef Woodman, author of Patients Beyond Borders. "I hope to eventually see all hospitals make this kind of information readily available to the public."

About Bumrungrad International
Bumrungrad International is Southeast Asia's premier private hospital and a regional referral center for advanced care, offering 554 beds, 30 specialty centers, 1,000 medical specialists, and more than 800 nurses. It is Asia's first Joint Commission International-accredited hospital and serves more than one million patients yearly from 190 different countries.

For press inquiries, please contact:
Public Relations Dept. Tel 02 667 2212

How the Economy is Affecting Medical Tourism

Domestic, smaller.jpg

It is no secret that patients often travel abroad to save money on hospital bills that would pile up in the United States. With the current state of the economy, patients thinking about traveling overseas for healthcare are beginning to weigh the pros and cons of costs.

According to a recent article in The Daily News & Analysis, some medical tourism companies in India are reporting a decline in elective procedures being sought overseas due to the economic downturn.

In addition,  to cut costs, various airlines have begun to charge passengers for extra checked luggage, in-flight snacks and beverages, and customer service calls.

Nevertheless, the potential for medical travel remains promising. With serious procedures, such as a hip replacement or neurological procedure, patients should research the price of surgery overseas after obtaining a quote from their primary surgeon. For example, according to the American Medical Association, hip replacement surgery, which costs approximately $43,000 in the United States can be performed in India for $9,000, or Singapore or Thailand for $12,000.

Additionally, patients should consider finding  specialists to service their needs in countries closer to home -- like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil -- in order to save money on airfare. Be sure to do your research before deciding when and where you'll go for a medical procedure.

Repairing the Heart

Domestic, smaller.jpgOne of the most serious types of surgery - and one that will save patients the most money when traveling overseas for a medical procedure - involves the heart.  Cardiac procedures, such as angioplasty, heart bypass, or heart valve replacement typically cost more than $130,000 in the United States. For patients who are uninsured or underinsured, these fees are almost unaffordable.

With the current state of the economy, patients are more willing than ever to travel abroad to access care that is equivalent or superior to healthcare in the United States.

The cost savings are remarkable: 

Cost Savings Chart           

Source: American Medical Association (AMA), June 2007

Top-class, world-renowned medical centers overseas, such as Wockhardt Hospitals in India, Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand, or ParkwayHealth hospitals in Singapore perform the same procedures for a fraction of U.S.-based costs.

Quality is Key

Bumrungrad has two cardiac operating theaters, two cardiac catheterization labs, a coronary intensive care ward (CCU), and rehabilitation facilities for cardiac patients. They employ more than 20 cardiac specialists and have received disease-specific accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI) for their myocardial infarction program.

As one of its clinical programs, ParkwayHealth offers patients the opportunity to meet with one of its more than 60 highly qualified cardiologists and surgeons to obtain services that range from simple screenings to complex procedures. Parkway's physicians, specialists, and nurses are trained in assisting patients' needs throughout the visit, ensuring the patient is taken care of and recovering comfortably before traveling home.

Patients considering medical travel for cardiac procedures should always consult their doctor and do their research about destinations. Ask medical tourism coordinators to put you in touch with patients who have traveled to a specific country and can provide references. If possible, speak with your overseas doctor before traveling to ensure that you are comfortable with your decision.

For more information on the hospitals and programs mentioned in this article, please visit the following Web sites:

Surgery Overseas... Through Your Health Plan?

Domestic, smaller.jpgWith the rising cost of healthcare, patients may soon be urged by their employers to travel overseas to internationally renowned hospitals for surgery.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of South Carolina, the first health plan to offer patients medical travel options, has spawned Companion Global Healthcare, offering patients the ability to travel to numerous Joint Commission International-accredited hospitals in destinations including India, Singapore, Ireland, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Taiwan.

According to Companion, the following chart shows the average savings patients can experience when traveling overseas for medical care:

Estimated Costs for Select Procedures at Companion Global Healthcare Hospitals 2008


Southeastern U.S. Average Cost

Apollo Hospitals, India

Bumrungrad International, Thailand

Hospital Clinica Biblica,
Costa Rica

Parkway Health Hospitals, Singapore

Wockhardt Hospitals, India

Heart Bypass (CABG x 4)


$8,500 - $10,500

$23,000 -

$22,000 -

$30,000 - $33,000

$7,500 - $9,500

Heart Valve Replacement


$9,500 - $13,000

$22,000 -

$28,000 - $30,000

$20,000 - $23,000

$10,000 - $14,000

Hip Replacement


$7,000 - $9,500

$11,000 -

$10,750 - $12,000

$15,900 - $17,000

$7,000 - $9,000

Hysterectomy (Vaginal)


$2,500 - $5,000

$3,400 -

$4,500 - $5,500

$9,000 - $10,500

$2,500 - $5,000

Knee Replacement


$8,000 - $10,000

$10,500 -

$10,000 - $11,500

$18,000 - $19,500

$6,000 - $8,500

Spinal fusion


$7,500 - $10,000

$9,300 -

$15,750 - $16,750

$20,000 - $22,000

$6,000 - $9,000








Estimates are based on exchange rates as of June, 2008. Hospitals charge in local currency, so actual costs depend on the exchange rate. Estimates do not include travel and costs that may arise from unforeseen complications. Savings on other procedures may vary.

Since the BCBS partnership, at least two other health insurance companies have announced interest in adding overseas hospitals as an option for its patients. United Health Group of Minnesota is currently looking into the medical tourism trend, while WellPoint Inc. of Indianapolis will offer employees of Wisconsin-based Serigraph Inc. the option of traveling to India for non emergency procedures, to begin in January 2009. WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin will set up the medical care and take care of scheduling and travel service. The insurer will cover the travel and lodging costs for both the patient and a companion. It will offer the program only for people who receive insurance through Wisconsin-based Serigraph Inc., a self-insured printing company that employs about 700 people in the United States.

Star (, a Canadian-based medical tourism company, recently announced a partnership with Star Health and Allied Insurance Company, which will work with U.S. health insurance providers to manage and submit claims for procedures done overseas.

According to experts, approximately 750,000 Americans traveled outside of the United States for healthcare in 2007, a number that is expected to increase to six million by 2010. If healthcare outsourcing continues - particularly with lay-offs amid the current economic downturn -- there is a greater chance that you or someone you know will be part of the medical tourism wave.

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Copyright © 2008 Your Medical Travel is published by CPR Communications.
Information in this newsletter should not be considered as medical advice.