Everyone knows that the United States has the best healthcare system in the world, right? No unusually long delays. Efficient care. The best doctors. You know, much better than you can get anywhere else. Right?
But that's a cold, stark graph that doesn't tell the whole story, right? Well, actually, no.
When Godfrey Davies learned he needed surgery to remove polyps blocking his nasal airways, the self-described bargain shopper set out on a mission to find an affordable surgeon. He quickly learned a good deal is hard to find.Yeah, but he's just one guy and...
"The total numbers they were throwing at me were just incredible. I couldn't believe it," he says.
Davies, who is semiretired from his real estate business and uninsured, says he received estimates from two surgeons. When hospital, anesthesia and incidental fees were all tallied, the cheapest price he could find in Indianapolis, Indiana, was $33,127 -- which he would need to pay out of pocket.
"I was speechless." Davies recalls. "It was absolutely out of the question financially for me to have this done under those circumstances."
Frustrated that his bargain shopping saved him so little, Davies called on family in the United Kingdom for assistance. When they told him they had found a private hospital in Wales that would perform the surgery for $2,930 [or £1,897], Davies didn't think twice.
He purchased a $768 round-trip ticket, and on March 18, he boarded a flight to the UK to have his polyps removed there at a savings of nearly $30,000.
An estimated 878,000 Americans will travel internationally for a medical procedure this year, according to a report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. That number is expected to nearly double by 2012.Damn socialists.
The majority of medical tourists are uninsured; however, the cost of health care in this country has become so expensive that even some U.S. health insurance companies are coordinating with hospitals overseas.
"It is curious to a number of folks as to why an established American health insurance company would be interested in medical tourism," says David Boucher, president of Companion Global Healthcare, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield.