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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Thursday, May 29, 2008

Medical tourism can save you big bucks

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Since the '90s, Clark has been talking about medical tourism as an option for non-emergency and cosmetic surgery. Americans can go overseas for a procedure and pay 20 cents on the dollar (or less) to be treated by Western-trained staff and a private nurse in modern facilities.

US News & World Report recently ran a cover story on the medical tourism trend. Shortly after that, The Wall Street Journal retorted by saying the trend is overhyped and nobody's doing it.

For once, Clark has to disagree with his "girlfriend." The reality is that many Americans lack adequate insurance coverage and/or have huge co-pays, so going overseas is a viable alternative.

While there are some inconveniences in going far away for care, the cost differences can be ginormous. (That's a technical term!) For example, a hip replacement that may run you $60K here might be between $12K and $15K overseas.

If you are considering medical tourism, how can you be sure an overseas facility is any good? Check with the Joint Commission International to see who's accredited.

Yes, medical tourism is controversial, but people need care and some can't afford it under our system. Two providers in Southern California -- Health Net and Blue Shield -- have provisions for treatment in Mexico that can save 40 percent on insurance premiums. Meanwhile, dental care in Costa Rica can be one-fifth the cost we pay here.

Looking for more info? See Clark talking about medical tourism in this video. 

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