Overseas travel for surgery is a viable solution for uninsured American citizens who are unable to afford expensive surgeries such as a knee replacement surgery. The average cost of a knee replacement surgery is over $50,000 in the United States, while many hospitals in our network are able to perform this surgery for less than $12,000. Moreover, even developed markets in Europe can perform this surgery at a substantially lower cost, which reflects the inefficiency of the US healthcare system.
India and Thailand are two of the most attractive destinations for US citizens to save money on a knee replacement surgery. Hospitals in India are typically able to offer this surgery for circa $6,000, while the price in Thailand is nearly twice as much, but still much lower than the cost of the surgery in the US.
Apart from the higher cost, another major setback of performing this surgery in the US includes the vast price discrepancies seen among hospitals in the United States, which makes it very difficult to know what to expect.
Americans should consider global options, particularly options in Asia. Some of the key benefits of a knee replacement surgery abroad include the lower cost and the higher transparency of the cost of the surgery.
Knee and hip replacement surgeries are some of the fastest growing medical treatments in the US
A study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that the number of knee replacement surgeries in the US more than tripled between 1993 and 2009. Approximately 700,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed in the United States annually and this number is projected to increase to 3.48 million procedures per year by 2030. We see private hospitals in India and Thailand in a position to increasingly absorb US patients due to the cost and quality advantages of these hospitals. The high costs of these surgeries can be a major burden for Americans that are hit with this unexpected medical expense. Uninsured citizens in particular can benefit the most from consider options abroad, considering that the majority of Americans would not have sufficient savings to cover the cost of an advanced surgery like this.
The cost of a knee replacement surgery varies substantially in the United States depending on the hospital that one chooses
A recent article by Blue Cross Blue Shield noted that the cost of a knee replacement surgery could fluctuate by as much as 267% depending on the hospital. This is a major thorn for patients that may be rushed into a decision, as they may not know about these price discrepancies. If you are in the United States and do not want to perform this surgery abroad it is crucial to compare the costs among different hospitals in your area and also to consider using the Free Market Medical Association, which could be a superior alternative to medical tourism. If these options do not satisfy your criteria then turning to options abroad, particularly in Asia, can be a major source of financial relief.
The cost of many surgeries in the United States is much higher compared to that of both developed and developing countries
Even markets such as France and Italy offer this surgery at a much lower cost, though Asia is still in the sweet spot in terms of cost and quality. France, which has the best healthcare system in the world according to WHO, offers a knee replacement surgery for circa $13,000. The same surgery can be performed for around $22,000 in Italy, depending on the location. Overall, the global private market offers a plethora of cost saving opportunities for advanced surgeries like this and American citizens are better off considering global options in most cases, unless their insurance covers all or the majority of the cost of the surgery.
JCI accredited hospitals in Asia provide high quality services and also provide the cost of the surgery well in advance in order to help you make an educated decision
In some cases, patients may determine that the best option is to have the surgery performed abroad, especially if they do not have insurance. One of our partner hospitals in Thailand is able to perform a knee replacement surgery for around $11,000, which would allow an insured patient to save circa 75% on a knee replacement surgery. Furthermore, this surgery can be performed for roughly half of this cost in India, another well known medical tourism destination for American citizens. Hospitals in Sri Lanka are able to perform this option at an even lower rate. Other destinations that many Americans choose to perform this surgery include markets such as Costa Rica and Mexico. We are currently partnered with hospitals in India, Thailand and Malaysia and are examining options in Sri Lanka as well ( see our recent Sri Lanka Medical Tourism article).
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Check out our online medical booking portal if you are interested in contacting a hospital about the cost of a knee replacement surgery in Asia. Phyathai 2 Hospital in Bangkok is able to perform this surgery for 330,000-370,000 thai baht, which is equivalent to roughly $11,000. Moreover, we have several hospitals in India on this booking portal, which are able to perform the surgery at a much lower cost. We covered some of the appeals of medical tourism in India in a previous blog post and see this market in a position to continue drawing more medical tourists from America and Europe. Both Thailand and India already have a strong reputation of serving expats and American medical tourists and can allow Americans to save money on a large number of surgeries, including knee replacement surgeries. Our next blog post will focus on how Americans can save money on hip replacement surgeries.
This article was authored by Dylan Waller, an American citizen who has lived and traveled extensively in Asia.