6 Things You Need to Know About Getting Medical Care Abroad

From face-lifts to heart surgery, the high cost of health care has pushed a record number of Americans to go abroad for care. In case you're considering such a trip yourself, here's what you need to know.

Whether you go on your own or use a facilitator, it's particularly important to check the credentials of the surgeon yourself: Ask about her record with the type of surgery you're considering; check her ability to explain things in English (on a phone call or via Skype); and get a clear understanding of the services, risks, and expectations. It's also a good idea to contact some of her former patients for testimonials and—in the case of cosmetic surgery—before and after photos.

What about recovery and follow-up care?

Well, you won't be able to go river rafting after getting a knee replacement, and your doctor will likely forbid both sun exposure and alcohol after cosmetic procedures. But that doesn't mean you can't relax at a resort or on a cruise ship. The length of your flight is something else to consider. Surgery increases the risk of blood clots, which can be dangerous on flights over four hours long. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons advises people to wait at least seven days after surgery before flying.

It's particularly important to see your doctor at home before you get on the plane, both to make sure you're fit for the trip and to inform him that you're undergoing treatment. You don't want to be in a situation where you arrive home and have to confess: "Guess what, Doc?!"



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International Savings Chart
A global guide to specialties—and discounts

Treatments: cardiology, orthopedic, oncology, and ophthalmological procedures
Heart bypass in Israel: $27,500
Heart bypass in the U.S.: $144,000
Savings: 81%

Costa Rica
Treatments: bariatric, cosmetic, dental, and orthopedic procedures
Gastric bypass in Costa Rica: $12,500
Gastric bypass in the U.S.: $32,927
Savings: 62%

Treatments: orthopedic, cardiology, cosmetic, and dental procedures
Hip replacement in India: $7,000
Hip replacement in the U.S.: $50,000
Savings: 86%

Treatments: dental, cosmetic, ophthalmological, and bariatric procedures
Dental implant in Mexico: $1,800/tooth
Dental implant in the U.S.: $2,800/tooth
Savings: 36%

Treatments: orthopedic, cosmetic, dental, and cardiology procedures
Knee replacement in Thailand: $12,297
Knee replacement in the U.S.: $50,000
Savings: 75%

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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