Thursday, April 05, 2007

Traveling afar to cut surgery costs

Used to be conservatives pointed to rich Canadians coming to the US for better medical care. Now liberals can point to 300,000 Americans this year traveling overseas to get affordable medical operations. That doesn't count the boom for pharmacists in Canada and Mexico from Americans for better pricing on drugs.
As medical costs soar in the U.S., the number of uninsured has swelled, exceeding 46 million, or nearly 16% of Americans, last year, according to Census Bureau statistics. As a result, more and more folks are choosing what's known as medical tourism and heading overseas for surgeries and dental treatments they couldn't otherwise afford.

In 2006 alone, an estimated 150,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care, a number expected to double by next year, according to Josef Woodman, the author of "Patients Beyond Borders: Everybody's Guide to Affordable, World-Class Medical Tourism." Nearly half of those -- around 70,000 -- had medically necessary surgeries such as hip replacements or spinal work, heart surgeries including bypass or valve replacements, and even cancer treatments.

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