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A quick guide to medical tourism

About 1.6 million Americans will travel overseas this year for medical procedures ranging from facelifts to heart bypass surgeries, according to the Medical Tourism Association (medicaltourismassociation.com). Some go because they don't have coverage in the United States, or their plans don't cover certain procedures. Others, including celebrities such as the late Steve Jobs and Farrah Fawcett, traveled abroad to get access to treatments that did not exist in the states. Lower costs and high-quality care in other countries can make such trips tempting. But medical standards vary widely around the world, and decisions on surgery should not be made on cost alone. Estimated prices are from the Medical Tourism Association unless otherwise mentioned, and include only the cost of surgery. Bloomberg

Heart bypass surgery

If you need a heart bypass and can't afford domestic prices, Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the Medical Tourism Association, says India offers high-quality cardiology care and has many U.S.-trained doctors. He says many Americans go to the Wockhardt Hospitals throughout India. The Apollo Hospitals, which also have branches in various cities in India, are popular and are accredited by the Joint Commission International, the international arm of the Joint Commission, which accredits U.S. hospitals.

Cost of surgery

$144,000: United States

$5,200: India

Cost Closer to home

$25,000: Costa Rica

Gastric bypass

The surgery has helped the likes of Al Roker, above, lose more than 100 pounds. Not all U.S. insurance companies cover such surgeries, so if you're a good candidate for the procedure, one avenue to explore is Mexico. One option: Hospital Galenia in Cancun, which is approved by the Joint Commission International.

Cost of surgery

$32,972: United States

$10,950: Mexico

Cost Closer to home

$12,500: Costa Rica

Orthopedic surgeries

Celebrities such as Regis Philbin and Jane Fonda, above, have had hip replacements in the United States. But Israel is a popular overseas destination. The cost is about half while the care is considered high quality.

Cost of surgery

$50,000: United States

$25,000: Israel

Cost Closer to home

$12,500: Costa Rica

Dental implants

The cost of getting your teeth as white as Vice President Joe Biden's, above, may justify a trip to Europe. According to Deepak Datta, president of Medical Tourism Corp., Hungary has become a top destination because oral surgeons there are highly skilled.

Cost for one implant

$2,800: United States

$1,035: Hungary (Fedasz Dental Clinic, Budapest)

Cost Closer to home

$1,800: Mexico

Plastic surgery

Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil offer prices as much as 70 percent cheaper than in the United States. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has certified about 1,900 surgeons in 90 countries who meet its standards. One possible location for cosmetic care: Hospital Universitario Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota, in Colombia.

Cost of Facelift

$15,000: United States

$5,000: Colombia

Cost of Breast implants

$10,000: U.S.

$2,500: Colombia

In vitro fertilization

Rarely covered by medical insurance in the United States, Israel beckons. According to IsraMedica's Katz, Israel's success rate is 36 percent, compared with as high as 20 percent in other countries. Plus, the cost is about 70 percent less than in the states. One of the busiest clinics in the world is JCI-approved Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Cost of one cycle

$12,400: United States

$6,000: Israel (IsraMedica)

$5,000: Panama (Passport Medical)

Cost Closer to home

$3,950: Mexico

Spinal fusion

Traveling to India for spinal surgery sounds painful in and of itself. Once you get there, though, you'll find experts for problems of the spine such as broken vertebrae, spinal deformity and lower back pain. The Wockhardt Brain and Spine Hospital in Mumbai is one option to consider.

Cost of surgery

$100,000: United States

$6,500: India

Cost Closer to home

$11,500: Costa Rica

Lasik eye surgery

While Canada used to be a popular destination for Lasik, the price difference is no longer that great. In Prague, the Lexum Eye Clinic uses equipment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many surgeons were trained in the United States. The cost is about half of that in the states.

Cost of surgery (both eyes)

$4,400: United States

$2,360: Czech Republic (Market Scope)

Cost Closer to home

$1,995: Mexico

See the complete Bloomberg report at tinyurl.com/cv3khjn.

A quick guide to medical tourism 01/06/13 [Last modified: Sunday, January 6, 2013 8:35pm]

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