More and more Americans are traveling to Europe, the Far East, and Mexico for medical treatment.

Key reason: Low prices on top-quality care.

In the past, this kind of medical tourism has been associated with elective plastic surgery and experimental treatments not available in the US. But last year more than 55,000 Americans went abroad for necessary but nonemergency operations, such as angioplasty knee replacement and cataract surgery.* Less expensive labor and administrative costs make foreign treatment 50% to 75% cheaper. That can be a bargain even with the additional costs of airfare and accommodations.

Costs of medical procedures can vary widely, within the United States and internationally, but here are a few examples...

  • Cataract surgery in the US costs about $3,000 an Eastern Europe, it costs about $1,200 an eye.
  • Repairing a herniated disk in the US can range from $30,000 to $90, Bangkok, Thailand, it typically starts at $3,500.
  • A total knee replacement in the US is about $48, India, $8,500.
  • Angioplasty in the US, around $80,000... in Singapore, $13,000.
  • Root canal in the US can range from $500 to $ Mexico, often less than $300.

Finding The Best

Flying thousands of miles from home for an operation is not for everyone, but it's worth exploring if you don't have adequate health insurance. Of course, you would want to use only top-quality foreign hospitals and physicians. Here's how to find. them...

  • Start by word of mouth. Ask friends and associates who have had medical procedures overseas for recommendations. Also ask doctors who specialize in the type of surgery you need.
  • Check with Partners Harvard Medical International (PHMI). This is a self-supporting, not-for-profit subsidiary of Harvard Medical School. Its role is to extend internationally the school's tradition of improving the quality of health care. PHMI is affiliated with dozens of overseas medical institutions and hospitals. (617-535-6400,
  • Contact the Joint Commission International (JCI), the global arm of the institution that accredits US hospitals. JCI hospitals have to meet rigorous standards of patient care, medication safety and infection control. (630-268-2900,
  • Choose a hospital with an international patient coordinator on staff. He/she will help you coordinate doctor's appointments, diagnostics and treatment at the hospital, as well as arrange post operative recuperation. He also can help with practical matters, such as airport pickup, currency exchange, hospital meal choices and interpreters if necessary.
  • Ask the foreign doctor/hospital for references from Americans who have had the same type of treatment.

Top Foreign Hospitals

These are foreign hospitals I would trust for myself and my family...

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