Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

February 25, 2014

Can you believe?

I would have had a lot of difficulty believing this if a “fitness mafia” buddy did not bring me a written article on the subject. Who would believe that the cost of surgery procedures had reached a level that created worldwide sourcing and even bidding for various procedures such as knee replacement, hip replacement, etc.?

We all know that health care costs have skyrocketed over the past years and we have recently been able to see the cost differences between states, regions and even cities due to the most recent published transparency, but this may top the list. In an article in the Men’s Journal by Kevin Gray, an eye-opener is reported about the people going to foreign locations for these types of surgeries due to the cost being unaffordable for the individual here. It is being reported that 1.6 million Americans went out of the country for these types of procedures because of cost in the United States. It is reported that the average cost of a hip replacement, one of the most common procedures for folks over 65, has increased from $35,000 in 2001 to about $65,000 today. The author states in the article that elsewhere you can get these surgeries with the same tools and equipment, and equally educated doctors for as little as $6500. For folks that cannot afford the cost here and the steady increase in health care in the U.S. plus the growth of overseas hospitals catering to overcharged Americans, it is becoming a much more viable option.

What is even more startling to me is now it is reported that some large insurance companies are partnering with employers to offer international coverage as a way to trim premiums and save on major claims. This is still in the experimental stage because skeptics’ still exist on legal and quality issues. The decision to go abroad really boils down to simple math; what would you pay here in the U.S. minus the price of international surgery, hospital, travel expenses and required onsite rehabilitation. The examples given range from savings of several thousand dollars to one patient who was quoted $100,000 for a procedure in California; $8,000 in India; and $21,000 in Texas who selected Texas because he did not want to travel overseas.

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