The average American doesn’t know it yet, but the demand for healthcare in the US will soon outpace our capacity to supply it. There will simply be too many people in need of healthcare services, and not near enough doctors and nurses to provide it. The number of uninsured Americans will continue to rise concurrently with escalating medical costs creating the “perfect storm” for the majority of Americans.
In short, Americans will find themselves increasingly in need of health and medical services they cannot afford. Those that can afford it may be faced with longer waits even for critical procedures. Or they may find that government bureaucracy has limited their access to life-saving medical procedures that are widely available in other nations.
The purveyors of doom would have us believe that the market will collapse and mayhem will ensue. Perhaps. But another scenario is far more likely.
South of the US border are smaller, often ignored countries that have been investing in education, infrastructure and advanced medical services over the past decade. While the US government has financed foreign wars on terrorists known and unknown, and engaged in reckless spending that has left our economy in shambles and our nation vulnerable; nations that were once considered “banana republics” have advanced and now stand as luminaries offering the American people a viable solution to our current and future healthcare woes.
Today, countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia are opening their borders and welcoming Americans in search of high quality, affordable healthcare, medical services and dental procedures. Uninsured and underinsured Americans in need of minor and major surgeries are getting on planes and heading south to receive first world medical care at third world prices.
If this all seems hard to believe, I don’t blame you. Only 25%-30% of Americans have a valid passport, and a minority percentage of Americans travel outside the US on a regular basis. Until recently, very few Americans would even consider medical services outside our national borders. The healthcare world as we know it is about to change. For once, this change is good news for Americans.
The average price for a heart valve replacement in the US is $150,000. The same procedure at a world-class cardiovascular center in Colombia is $25,000-$35,000. Before you roll your eyes, consider that these hospitals are among the best in the world, surpassing many US hospitals in quality of care and cutting edge medical technology. These are hospitals unlike any most Americans have ever seen. Major cities in Colombia such as Medellin and Bucaramanga are investing $150 Million to $300 Million US in new medical centers with technology that rivals the best in the world, and are staffed by doctors that have been trained at the finest medical schools in the US and Europe. These are English-speaking, US trained doctors and specialists in outstanding new hospitals and medical centers that just happen to be located outside the US.
Dental work is one of the most common areas for foreign medical travel. It’s hard to believe, but only 25% of Americans have dental insurance. Even those with standard dental insurance usually only have up to $1,200 – $1,500 in annual coverage…enough for a couple of fillings and a routine cleaning. Any extra work such as root canals, bridges, crowns, dental implants or cosmetic dentistry is generally outside the scope of coverage. As such, most Americans can expect to pay $4,000 to $40,000 for dental services in the US that would cost 50%-75% less for the same or better quality work in Costa Rica.
On nearly every flight to Costa Rica, you can find tourists that are planning to visit the beaches, volcanoes and tropical rainforests…before or after they get a new set of teeth, cosmetic surgery, or even a major medical procedure. Costa Rica is known worldwide as the nation with the happiest and longest-living people on the planet. It would appear that their world-class healthcare services are a critical link to their happiness and longevity.
Panama, the center of Latin American commerce and home of the Panama Canal is leading the way with incredible specialized care in optometry. Lasik eye surgery, corneal replacements and other major eye-care services are widely available in Panama, from world class ophthalmologists at incredible savings of 50% or more over US prices.
Colombia, at the top of South America and a mere 5 hours from Miami or Dallas is surprising the world with remarkable advances in medical care. Several of Colombia’s medical centers have put this nation on the map for their recognition as some of the best hospitals and medical centers in all of Latin America. The fact that these hospitals and medical centers often outperform US medical facilities is a revelation. That they can provide these same or better services at prices that are often 50% to 80% less than US prices is a wake-up call for the American healthcare system.
The solution to our current and future healthcare concerns is simple and obvious. It’s time we started shopping for our medical procedures in the US the same way we shop for most everything else. It’s time we started demanding value from our doctors and hospitals. And, when we cannot get the value we seek, we need to be willing to look outside our borders to find it.
A simple internet search for foreign medical providers will yield hundreds of search results for nearly every procedure imaginable. Some are reliable providers. Others are not. Do your homework. Send out emails to potential medical and dental providers. Follow-up with phone calls to the best prospects. Don’t make the mistake of choosing your provider based on cost alone. The best providers in these nations are not the least expensive. However, their pricing will still provide deep savings over most American healthcare providers. Select the doctor or dentist that demonstrates the greatest capacity to provide the services and care you need. Ask for references, and call these references to verify the details of their procedures and their satisfaction.
Additional costs may include your flight, hotel accommodations and meals during your “medical vacation”. It’s important to add these expenses to the total cost of your treatment to ensure that you are realizing significant savings over US prices. For most procedures in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, you will receive outstanding medical and dental care while enjoying the vacation of a lifetime and still save 50% or more over US prices.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans travel abroad every year and receive high quality, compassionate healthcare at huge savings while enjoying the best these nations have to offer. Don’t be surprised to find a level of affordable high-quality travel in Latin America that you cannot afford in the US. Affordable four and five-star hotels, excellent restaurants, pristine beaches, sport fishing, spas, world-class shopping and more are available in most Latin American nations. If you enjoy stunning scenery, these great travel amenities are just a short distance to some of the most beautiful dramatic natural landscapes on the planet.
Plan to spend some time enjoying your travels before your medical procedures. Allow a few days to get to know the country. Take some tours. Go to the spa. Remember…medical tourism is about enjoying your travels while you save money on medical care.
Your Passport to Affordable Healthcare
As the US faces the certainty of surging healthcare demand and unavoidable increases in medical service pricing, it’s time we looked south to Latin America to fill in the gaps. Simply, medical tourism has the potential to provide Americans with the healthcare services they need at prices they can afford.
If you don’t have a passport…get one. It’s not only a passport to see the world. It may be the single most important document for long-term healthcare security for you and your family.
About the Author:
Patrick Goodness is the CEO of The Goodness Company, a global marketing agency specializing in medical tourism marketing and healthcare advertising. Goodness is recognized internationally as an authority on medical tourism and global healthcare marketing. The Goodness Company is a member of the Medical Tourism Association, and the leading voice in global medical tourism marketing and advertising services. Goodness lectures regularly on medical tourism marketing, and consults with national and regional governments and healthcare organizations on medical tourism development.
Patrick Goodness: email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 715-254-0711