The next time you head overseas, you might want to think about what more you can get from your vacation besides sightseeing and a great tan. Whether it be chic collectibles that would make fabulous Christmas gifts later in the year, or that new French lotion that isn’t sold stateside, sometimes you need to think outside the box and seize the opportunity to benefit from a place with different cultures, laws, and (especially) prices. Specifically, medical tourism is becoming more and more popular as people are realizing they can fly to their destination, have the procedure, and enjoy a vacation as well – all for less than the cost of doing it at home.
Now before you protest over untrained doctors and low-quality facilities, know that in many cases this is simply untrue. Many popular destinations for medical procedures, such as Thailand, Costa Rica, and Mexico, can boast U.S.-trained doctors, high-end facilities, and legitimate business practices at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. On our trip to Bali last year, my boyfriend Carsten needed an emergency root canal. Though scared of dentists and even more terrified of dentists in Indonesia, he had little choice but to go. Instead of the nightmare he had imagined, he had an American-trained Indonesian dentist that spoke perfect English, immaculate offices, and most importantly, zero pain. He had a root canal plus cleaning for only $200 – it would have cost us 10x that here at home.
On my last trip to Curacao I stocked up on my birth control, which is sold there in pharmacies and available, at a low cost, without a prescription. My prescription Retin-A that at $100/tube I can no longer afford without health insurance? Found it in Uruguay for $15 over the counter. While I’m sure my med school friends (and the customs authorities?) would object, think about how much you are paying here for your medical costs and what you are really getting for that money. $500 for an emergency room visit for a bee sting? Exactly my point. The next time you need that tooth pulled or even that boob enhanced, why not turn it into a real getaway and still save yourself money.