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Medical Travel in the U.S.

Here's what you need to know about finding and financing the care you need

En español | If you want to explore domestic medical tourism for an elective procedure, check with your insurance company or human resources department to see whether your plan offers this as a benefit. If you’re paying out of pocket, you can contact a medical tourism company directly, but use common sense, because it is a new and still largely unregulated industry. Be sure to ask about how long the company has been in business, how many patients it has assisted and whether you can speak to some of them. Likewise, check online rating services to see how other patients view the doctor and hospital you have selected.

If you’re thinking about traveling out of town for surgery, there are a few things to keep in mind, say those familiar with domestic medical tourism. First and foremost, you should educate yourself about “what’s involved and what is required,” says Joe Holt, vice president of Auxiant Inc., a third-party health plan administrator that manages employer-funded health plans.

Surprisingly, patients don’t always take time for due diligence. “People will do more research on buying a set of tires than choosing a doctor,” Holt says. Michael D. Horowitz, M.D., a former cardiac surgeon who consults with health care providers, says it’s easy to do some sleuthing online, even for medical providers in other states.

Patients “should investigate a physician in another community in the United States in exactly the same way as they would investigate a physician in their own community,” Horowitz says. “That’s part of the allure of this.”

You can start by using online rating services, such as HealthGrades or the Medicare Hospital Compare  website to see what other patients think about doctors and hospitals, Horowitz says. While the reports on these sites aren’t perfect, “it’s a start,” he says.

He suggests that patients also check to see whether a physician is really board-certified (just visit the American Board of Medical Specialties website). In addition, almost all U.S. facilities are supposed to be accredited by the Joint Commission, Horowitz says.

Finally, ideally, local follow-up care should be arranged beforehand, he adds. Some of the larger medical tourism facilitators include:

BridgeHealth Medical
5299 DTC Blvd.
Suite 800
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

HCS Navigator
777 Brickell Ave.
Penthouse 70
Miami, FL 33131

Surgery Planet
2280 Diamond Blvd.
Suite 300 -304
Concord, CA 94523