Buyers Beware: Patients Can Face Sky-high Costs outside the U.S.2 min read
a number of places outside the U.S. where the cost of medical care can be higher than for the same care at home. In my role as Medical Director for HTH Worldwide, I see proposed treatment plans and cost estimates that would cause patients without travel health insurance serious financial pain. For example,
- Surgeon’s fee to remove a thyroid gland in China at $9,000. The same procedure would
cost approximately $1,000 in the U.S., with insurance discounts.
- Laparoscopic pelvic surgery in South America in the amount of $13,000. Cost is around $7,000 in the U.S. with insurance discounts.
- Psychotherapy in England may cost as much as $200 per hour. The average therapist in the U.S. would be happy with half that amount.
In addition, many foreign practitioners generate supplemental income by selling prescription medications directly to patients, and think nothing of recommending more expensive alternatives over older, proven therapies. Examples include new antibiotics and tumor necrosis factor blocker medications such as Humira and Enbrel.
Unless travelers protect themselves by purchasing travel health insurance, they will be faced with paying the quoted rate or footing the bill for evacuation to the U.S. for tens of thousands of dollars. Most major U.S. insurers provide spotty coverage for healthcare services obtained while visiting foreign lands—and sometimes none at all. Travel health insurance provides not only coverage, but also a watchful eye to insure that patients receive only effective, evidence-based treatment.