Medical tourism: 5 surgeries worth a trip
Destinations: Costa Rica, Brazil
Estimated savings: $7,442
Hip and knee replacements are frequently covered by U.S. health insurance, just not fast enough, says Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association.
"Oftentimes, companies don't find this type of surgery necessary until you've been in pain for a certain number of years," says Stephano. "Plus, that procedure is usually only about $8,000 in South America."
Stefano chalks up the savings to the fact that labor is cheaper abroad and foreign doctors frequently don't carry the same medical malpractice insurance as domestic doctors. Uninsured patients in the U.S. pay an average of $15,442 for hip replacement surgery, according to the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta.