3 Reasons to Avoid Going Abroad for Cheaper Medical Attention

Americans are into medical tourism in a big way.

Medical tourism is the practice of citizens from developed countries flying to other countries to get discount medical treatments.

And according to Jacob Pope, the COO of Medical Departures, a travel website for medical tourists, medical travel by Americans is up sharply.

Americans are traveling to various Central and South American, Eastern European, and Asian countries for elective surgery, plastic surgery, dental work, and other major medical procedures.

Why? Because many Americans can’t afford basic medical procedures and don’t have medical insurance.

Over 74 million Americans have no dental insurance. And more than 6 million of them lost dental coverage.

Meanwhile, more than 27.5 million Americans have no medical insurance. The average cost to stay in a hospital for three days in the United States is over $30,000.

It might cost you over $7,500 to have a broken leg mended in an American hospital.

Americans can save a lot of money on medical care as a medical tourist. A $1,275 root canal in the United States could cost less than $250 in Mexico, for example.

Americans can pay anywhere between 50% to 80% less on minor and major medical procedures abroad relative to the United States.

So, should you book a flight to save on medical care? If you do, you’re risking your health and your finances. Here are three reasons why you should pass on medical tourism.

Lack of certifications

If you go to a foreign country, especially a developing country, for medical care then you risk being worked on by a minimally skilled medical professional.

Your doctor may only be qualified by local standards, not American medical standards, to be a doctor. Your doctor may be a veterinarian or an unqualified apprentice who learned on the job instead of being formally trained.

The point is that even if you are worked on by a real doctor, you won’t receive the certified standards of medical care you would receive in the United States.


The only advantage to medical tourism is the relative savings. However, the standard of living are relatively lower than in the United States. Hospitals in developing countries may not be open 24 hours or have the latest in painkillers and medications.

You could suffer from major infections and scarring after a procedure. And since the medications are not the same standard in the United States, your infection may contain drug-resistant bacteria.

Some medical tourists have complained of botched surgeries and foreign objects being left inside of them.

American lawyers and police have no jurisdiction to sue, disciple, or arrest negligent medical practitioners in foreign countries.

Extra costs

It will cost you a lot more money to have medical complications from medical tourism corrected in the United States after the fact. And you have to consider the cost of travel, lodging, meals and so on while you are abroad recovering.

Consider medical travel like a type of vacation, except you are likely to spend it in a hospital room, not on a beach somewhere. You might find that the savings are illusory in many instances.