For most of us, medical care starts with our primary care physician. We visit the doctor, he or she refers us to a specialist if needed, we go to the specialist if needed, and we receive the care we need.
The problem with this equation is that it just assumes that the best bargain available in health care is the one closest to you. Is it providing the best quality? Is it providing the most reasonable prices?
Often, we’re shielded from the price issue by our insurance, but most of us still have to pay for some portion of our medical care. If you can save 20% or more on the bill for a big medical procedure by traveling somewhere else – on a trip paid for by the insurance company – why wouldn’t you do it? Particularly if the care was as good or better than the care you would receive at home? 20% can be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.
Medical tourism is the practice of traveling (usually over international borders) to obtain health care, either due to better care being available elsewhere or for lower-cost care that’s equivalent to what you receive at home.
Because the cost for many procedures can be very, very high, traveling to save a significant percentage on your care can be a pretty major money saver. For those with insurance, your insurance company will often work with you to find options that will save you both money.
The solution is simple. Whenever you’re faced with a major medical procedure that’s going to cost you a lot of money out of pocket, call your insurance company.
There are probably solutions that, if you and your insurance company worked together, could save both you and your insurance company quite a lot of money without skimping on care. Quite often, that solution will involve travel, whether within your country or outside of it.
The key here is to be proactive and be open to solutions that you didn’t initially expect.
You need to make the first step here. Sometimes, your insurance company will do this, but if you want to save money, make the first step yourself. Contact them and see whether or not traveling for care is a potential solution that will save you both money.
Be willing to do some research yourself. Investigate places where there is high quality medical care for the services that you want. Know what common certifications mean, such as JCI certification, and know how to look for certified sources for your care.
This seems complex – and it certainly can be. However, if you can receive quality health care at a much lower price than you can from your local specialist, whether elsewhere in your country or outside of it, it’s going to be in your best interest to seek out those options.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.