WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Nearly one million Americans are now traveling abroad for medical procedures. Some insurance companies are now giving patients the option to go out of the country to get more affordable health care.
The new phenomenon of medical tourism is something already happening all around you, proving that American healthcare cost are some of the highest in the world.
"We have costs here that are rising rapidly and causing employers to revisit how to control some of the cost and offer choices that keep care affordable to their employees," said Rajesh Rao, CEO of Indus Healthcare.
ABC News recently chronicled two North Carolinians who traveled abroad to have life saving procedures. One of them, Joy Guion, lives in Hickory and works for HSM Solutions. Earlier this year she had a gastric procedure that costs $30,000 here in the US, but in Costa Rica it cost less than $18,000.
Rao, whose company provides insurance service for HSM and other companies, says medical tourism is safe and affordable.
"We have taken the flagship hospitals in these cities and country's that we work with, and they tend to be ones that have gone through the process of getting accredited by the US Joint Base Commission International," Rao said.
If Guion would have had her surgery in the US she would have paid nearly $3,000 out of pocket. But because she had her surgery overseas the insurance company picked up the full and much cheaper amount.
"People who look at it for the first time question it, but as they look into it and understand some of the reasons why, they find out that in these country's that we work with you can indeed get better care at a lower cost," Rao said.
Believe it or not, you can make money off of traveling for surgery. Rao says Indus Healthcare not only pays for the overseas procedures; it also covers airfare, lodging and gives patients a small percentage of the savings from having their procedures abroad.