The Getaway
Surgery Abroad: Top Medical Tourism Destinations around the World

Escalating medical costs have prompted many Americans to seek care abroad. Sometimes across the border in Mexico where the quality of healthcare has been ranked even, and sometimes they travel further afield, crossing oceans to get the medical procedure they need. While medical tourism might not be for everyone, for those looking for a safe alternative to the broken U.S. healthcare system, the journey might be worth the journey.


01 Mexico

Senior Couple exploring the views from a Mexican Hotel Rooftop ferrantraite / Getty Images

Patients in the American Southwest have long been crossing the border with their prescriptions to get better deals on medications. These days, they’re crossing for medical care, as well, and saving as much as 65% in some cases. Sometimes, as in the case for bariatric surgery, the cost savings soar to 70%. Mexico features board-certified physicians and surgeons, many of whom earned their medical degrees in the United States. While cosmetic surgery and dentistry used to be the main healthcare services medical tourists sought in Mexico, a full spectrum of medical treatments and surgeries ranging from cardiac to orthopedic surgeries are routinely sought.


02 India

Local Indian male guide describes the beauty and architecture of the Taj Mahal to a western tourist couple travelling in India. JohnnyGreig / Getty Images

With its cutting-edge technology and highly trained practitioners, India has turned into a medical tourism powerhouse that enables patients to save up to 90% for some procedures. In fact, the cost savings averages between 65% and 90%. For example, a heart valve will cost $15,000 in India. In the U.S., that valve costs $150,000. Patients travel to India for a wide array of procedures that include fertility treatments, cardiac, oncology, and orthopedic care. India also features JCI-accredited hospitals and nationally accredited hospitals. The dazzling scenery, warm climate, and inexpensive lodging also attracts patients to this part of the world.


03 Malaysia

Young woman with backpack taking a picture of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

In recent years, Malaysia has been named the acclaimed International Medical Travel Journal’s Award for being the world’s Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the Year. While most of Malaysia’s medical tourists visit from a neighboring Asian nation, many in the U.S. are turning to the country for procedures as well. Medical tourists can expect savings to range between 65% and 80% off American pricing. With comfortable hospitals and attentive staff, Malaysia is a popular option for travelers who don’t mind heading to a far-flung location.


04 Hungary

Rear view of young woman with umbrella and suitcase just arriving in Budapest martin-dm / Getty Images

The Eastern European country of Hungary is an up-and-coming medical tourism destination that is especially popular for dentistry. Patients can expect to pay 75% less for restorative dental procedures. With grants from the European Union, Hungary has boosted its medical facilities in order to attract more international patients--and it’s working. Budapest is easily one of the most stunning capital cities in Europe, which may also lure travelers who want to soak up the culture while getting a deal on a needed medical procedure.


05 Turkey

Crowd of tourists in front of Sultan Ahmet Camii - Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

There are several reasons that medical tourists look to Turkey when contemplating getting healthcare abroad. First, Turkey features high-quality, affordable healthcare that encompasses a wide array of treatments and procedures, ranging from transplant surgery to radiation treatments. Secondly, it’s typically possible to fly with discounted rates from the country’s main carrier, Turkish Airlines. Finally, Turkey is rich in culture, which attracts many tourists from all over the globe to its major cities like Istanbul and Ankara.


06 Brazil

Aerial view of the Christ, The Redeemer Monument and the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Yuri de Mesquita Bar / Getty Images

As one of Latin America’s leading nations for high-quality healthcare, Brazil is a popular destination for medical tourism. With more than 40 JCI-accredited hospitals and many renowned surgeons, Brazil has become internationally known for its medical advances. In addition, the country has been labeled as “the king of plastic surgery,” according to a report by NBC News. Medical tourists can expect to save up to 30% off medical treatments and procedures in Brazil.


07 Costa Rica

Cuban Man Traveling in Costa Rica Hikes Waterfall Rio Celeste Boogich / Getty Images

Each year, more than 700,000 Americans flock to Costa Rica for its high-quality healthcare. This Central American nation features medical care that’s been ranked equal to what’s found in the U.S. but at immense cost savings. For example, in the U.S., you can expect to pay $33,000 for a hip replacement; in Costa Rica, that cost is cut in half. The nation features hundreds of qualified board-certified surgeons, doctors, and dentists that cater to medical tourists.


08 Thailand

Four friends exploring Thailand itsskin / Getty Images

Thailand is a popular vacation destination, and many medical tourists combine their rest and relaxation time with time set aside for healthcare. Many of Thailand’s physicians and surgeons receive their medical training in Europe and the United States. Listed by the World Health Organization as in the top 50 nations for healthcare, Thailand is working to cement its place as a leading medical tourism destination. Many hospitals and clinics offer packages that help cut down medical expenses even further. Depending on the procedure, patients might pay 75% less than what they’d pay back home.


09 Czech Republic

Composition of Charles Bridge in Prague at night with a milky way night sky. Czech Republic Eloi_Omella / Getty Images

If you’re looking for a European medical tourism destination, consider the Czech Republic. This Eastern European country boasts up to 60% off costs for a wide array of medical procedures. It’s growing in popularity, especially for cosmetic surgery and dentistry. The Czech Republic features high-quality medical care and features low-cost lodging. With its incredible cultural attractions and modern cities, it’s no wonder that it’s commanding a hearty slice of the medical tourism pie in Europe.


10 Panama

Senior men photographing a Panorama of Panama city. helovi / Getty Images

Panama doesn’t only feature excellent healthcare; its doctors and surgeons are largely fluent in English. Americans can visit Panama visa-free for up to 180 days. The country features a wide array of board-certified doctors and surgeons--many of whom obtained their medical degrees in the U.S. Americans particularly favor Panama because of its “Americanized” culture, which makes them feel comfortable, and for the immense cost savings they can achieve. Most procedures range between 40% and 70% cheaper than in the U.S. and, of course, visitors love the country’s tropical climate.


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