May 19, 2009

From the Cafferty File:

While Washington looks at trying to solve the nation’s health care crisis, many Americans aren’t waiting. They are willing to take matters into their own hands by seeking medical treatment elsewhere.A new Gallup poll shows 29 percent of those surveyed would consider traveling outside the U.S. for treatment in a foreign country. 24 percent would travel for cancer treatment or diagnosis. 15 percent for a hip or knee replacement. 14 percent for heart bypass surgery. And 10 percent for plastic surgery.

When people are asked if they would consider treatment abroad, assuming the quality was the same and the costs much cheaper, those numbers jump by an average of 12 points.

Medical travel used to be considered a luxury for the rich, but with health care costs at home skyrocketing and an estimated 48 million uninsured Americans, that may no longer be the case. In fact, this poll shows people without insurance are more likely than those with coverage to think about going abroad for medical treatment.

When it comes to regions of the country, those in the West are the most willing to travel while people in the Midwest and South are less likely to go abroad.

Meanwhile if there are improvements in insurance reimbursements, hospital quality and cheaper costs abroad — more Americans could start traveling elsewhere for health care.

Here’s my question to you: Would you be willing to travel to another country to get medical care?

Lisa from New York writes:

I would travel abroad for medical care even if it weren’t as good as what was theoretically available here. Being able to afford some care is better than not being able to afford any at all.

JS from North Carolina writes:

I lived in the UK, and I would go there any day for medical care. It was far better than what we have here. My husband had surgery for an aortic aneurism. He spent 10 days in the hospital, had the finest specialists, care and fabulous follow-up care. The cost: zero. And he had paid nothing into the system, being an American citizen.

Marcos from Sao Paolo, Brazil writes:

I work near a hospital whose staff is required to speak English fluently. So many Americans and Europeans come here for the reasons you cited, Mr. Cafferty. And this is not a season fever; it’s been happening for the past three or four years and is growing every year.

Travis writes:

I would and already have traveled outside of the country for medical treatment. It originally started when I was in Japan for a vacation and I found out how much better their health care system was than ours. And you know what it cost me? Absolutely nothing.

L. writes:

My retired parents recently traveled to Mexico for dental work, and they plan to return this summer. Replacing a dental bridge at a dentist in the U.S. would cost them more than $5,000, but my mother received the same treatment in Mexico for about $1,000. The doctor is U.S.-educated, and understandably, his business is growing rapidly through referrals.

Ken writes:

Not only would I be willing to do it, I have done it! I have saved many thousands of dollars in dental costs by traveling to Asia and Africa. And I actually managed to have a fun vacation in the process. Vacationing abroad is my current health care coverage–and it will remain so.

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