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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

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Medical tourism

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: My father-in-law says that he is planning a vacation in Europe and southeast Asia and will get dental surgery during the trip because it is less expensive than here in the U.S. We are worried about this. Is this safe?

A: Medical tourism is more popular industry than most people realize. Surgery overseas may also be much safer than you suspect. Even though the U.S. accounts more than half of the world's total expenditures on health care, we rank only 37th in quality of care. In this case, cost is clearly not directly tied to the medical outcome. The insurance, medical record translation and financial/currency issues are not addressed in this response but obviously they must be considered. Even if the surgery is not expected to be covered by insurance, it is still important to have strong regular medical insurance that provides international coverage just in case of unexpected complications. If his health plan does not provide coverage outside of the U.S., then he can add this supplemental coverage easily for the duration of his trip. See the international health plan listing at You should make sure that this is addressed before he leaves home. Otherwise, there is no obvious casue for worry.


More resources:

International health insurance listings at