Want to save 40 to 80 percent of the cost of a domestic Total Knee Replacement, heart procedure, plastic surgery, or another, typically high-cost medical procedure? You might look into medical travel, which can save you up to 80 percent of the typical costs for an equivalent procedure in the United States.
“If the procedure you’re considering costs more than $6,000 in the United States, it might be worthwhile and money-saving for you to evaluate a medical travel option,” said Patrick Marsek, Managing Director of MedRetreat and co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Medical Tourism.”
The arguments for medical travel are compelling, and can include: low to no-cost procedures, hospitals with standards meeting or exceeding US levels of care, and ease of use.
If you are insured, and your employer offers a health reimbursement account, a company like Satori World Medical would be a good place to start your medical travel inquiries.
“Through our model, the patient has no out-of-pocket costs,” said Steven Lash, CEO of Satori World Medical. “If you use our network, not only do you not have out-of-pocket costs, but you will not receive a bill. In addition, your employer will fund a portion of the savings because it’s so significant with the HRA. You could get home and find that there’s a deposit in your HRA that you can use to fund future health care.”
Some of the member countries might be considered to be third-world, but the care is first-rate. Satori’s world network includes only hospitals that are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.
MedRetreat, a medical travel company founded in 2003, reaches a different target audience. “Our core market is comprised of uninsured or underinsured Americans,” said Marsek.
A case study on the MedRetreat Web site states that a woman who received an initial cost estimate of more than $90,000 for a total knee replacement in the United States ended up spending only $17,000 total, including airfare and deluxe hotel accommodations, by using MedRetreat to “facilitate her entire medical retreat.”
Although Satori and MedRetreat reach out to different types of patients, both companies handle all of the travel planning and procedure scheduling.
Ultimately, it’s about receiving an equal caliber of care while lowering healthcare costs. As patients are becoming more compelled to be savvy healthcare consumers, medical travel is an intriguing option for those facing a significant health procedure.