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More Americans going abroad this year for medical procedures after pandemic pause

Yahoo Finance’s Stephanie on the rebound in Americans seeking cheaper alternatives abroad for medical procedures post-pandemic.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Crossing the US border for medical or dental procedures, also known as medical travel, is rebounding in a big way-- that's according to some new data-- as Americans try to find cheaper alternatives after pandemic shutdowns. We've got Yahoo Finance's Stephanie Asymkos here now with your money. So Stephanie, tell me why would Americans go abroad for some of these medical procedures?

STEPHANIE ASYMKOS: Of course. I mean, the simplest answer I can give you is money this industry really appeals to the budget-conscious Americans. And surgical procedures abroad are as much as 80% less. So that means that even for the insured, paying out of pocket abroad is sometimes still cheaper than meeting a US health insurance deductible or copay for certain procedures.

But I have to share that we shouldn't get dazzled by the savings because there are some serious risks to be considered, especially against the COVID landscape, right? So travel and recovery time in country plus medical insurance, medical travel insurance, I should say, should be factored into the overall cost, and then other risk factors can come from just a lower quality of care, a language barrier, and then plus the chance of follow-up treatment being needed in the US postop. And then heaven forbid, if something really goes sideways, filing a malpractice suit abroad is, I'm told, very difficult and filled with a lot of red tape.

- So given that, Stephanie, what's really motivating so many Americans to go abroad for some of these procedures?

STEPHANIE ASYMKOS: Well, it's skirting the expensive co-pays and deductibles and then some restrictive services that some US operators might not pay for certain procedures. Some things might not be available in the US, and then ultimately it's just money.

- Yeah, unfortunately, it just comes down to cost. What are they having done? What are some-- some of the more, I guess, popular or in-demand procedures to be getting crossing the border?

STEPHANIE ASYMKOS: Right, so actually the global hotspot is actually Bangkok, Thailand, where procedures like Botox, fillers, hair transplants, rhinoplasty, all of those things can be found at a big discount. But a country that's a lot closer, more accessible, is Mexico like you said. And there, people can find procedures like dental, in-vitro fertilization, and orthopedic surgery really at a fraction of the cost.

And especially for dental procedures, those tend to be the most discounted, as much as 80%. And that sounds pretty good considering there are really highly trained dentists in Mexico. And it kind of gives people the freedom to receive care outside what is typically a very restricted US insurance system when it comes to dental procedures and pricey dental coverage. So there's a lot of options to be considered here, and people really need to weigh if the risk is worth the reward.

- Yeah. Definitely do that cost analysis there. Stephanie Asymkos, thanks so much.