Weight Loss Surgery Mexico & Abroad: Complete Analysis
“Weight loss surgery Mexico” sometimes conjures fears of unsterile hospitals and inexperienced surgeons.
Below you’ll see how - with the right approach - this increasingly viable approach can in fact offer a safe, effective option that leads to similar outcomes as your home country and save you as much as $16,000 or more…
- COST: How much does bariatric surgery cost in other countries vs the US?
- Is plastic or bariatric surgery in Mexico and other countries safe?
- What do medical travel patients say about their experiences?
- Who should consider leaving the country for surgery?
- 7 general concerns when traveling
- Start to finish: the medical travel process
- Which hospitals & surgeons are best?
- Is there anyone who can help coordinate everything?
- Additional resources
- Did YOU have bariatric surgery in Mexico or abroad? Click here to share your experiences.
Bariatric surgery is much less expensive abroad because the systems in other countries are not plagued with the problems of health care in the U.S. This section will cover the following cost considerations:
- Cost in Mexico Vs. United States & Other Countries
- Why so much less?
- What's Included in the Price & What's Not
Weight Loss Surgery Cost in Mexico Vs. United States & Other Countries
First, let’s review the average cost for bariatric surgery in popular destination countries compared to the U.S. (we’ll get into the reasons why the cost of bariatric surgery abroad is so much less expensive in a moment)…
|Gastric Bypass Surgery Cost||Lap Band Surgery Cost||Duodenal Switch Surgery Cost||Gastric Sleeve Cost||Tummy Tuck Cost|
|Above are estimates of the average
cost of each procedure. Costs are in U.S. dollars and can
vary widely for weight loss surgery Mexico and other countries. Prices not available (n/a) do not
necessarily mean that the procedure is not available in that country.
Rather, prices for the n/a procedure were not available in the
databases and studies utilized.
References: Bariatric Surgery Source Annual Surgeon Cost Survey, 11
After reviewing some of the above price comparisons, it makes more sense why, according to a recent Gallup poll, almost 30% of people in the U.S. would consider traveling abroad for medical treatment.8
But if the quality of international hospitals and surgeons are as good or better than the U.S. as discussed above, how is it possible for costs to be so much lower?
Why Does Weight Loss Surgery Mexico/Abroad Cost So Much Less?
There are 4 main reasons why it is possible to receive equal or better care abroad at a lower cost...
First, lower labor and administrative costs driven by an overall lower cost of living flow through to treatment costs (e.g. lower salaries mean the surgeon does not need to charge as much to cover their costs). For example, according to a recent Mercer study, New York has a cost of living adjustment of 100, San Francisco is at 85, Mexico City is at 77 and Bangkok, Thailand is at 64.9.9
Second, malpractice costs and resulting malpractice insurance is much lower in other countries than they are in the United States. Again, this does not mean that the quality of care is lower. It simply means that foreign cultures do not encourage malpractice lawsuits as often as the U.S.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded outside of the US, and at best any lawsuit would only result in the patient recovering actual damages (out of pocket cost of harm caused, including paying for treatments that address the problem, travel expenses, etc.).
Third, by working in large, multi-specialty clinics, physician overhead (e.g. building rent and maintenance, utilities, staff, computers, systems, etc.) abroad is much lower than the smaller specialty clinics in the U.S. In the U.S., physician overhead is somewhere between 50 and 60%. Abroad it can be as low as 5 or 6%.
Finally, there is much less administration and paperwork required for treatment abroad.
In the United States, the average surgical experience goes roughly as follows...
(Use the scroll bar on the right to review the list)
- Private employers (where almost 2/3 of those under 65 get insurance coverage) work with insurance brokers or consultants to design an industry-competitive health insurance plan for their employees. Employers and brokers work with insurance companies to ensure that their plans remain competitive with the rest of the insurance carrier market.
- Insurance companies and other third parties negotiate discounted rates with hospitals to ensure that their rates are competitive. More competitive rates mean more members in their plan which means more bargaining power with the hospitals. Every aspect of treatment is given a special code that the insurance company and hospital can track to facilitate the correct negotiated payment.
- To gain more bargaining clout and a referral base, hospitals and doctors work together to form groups that can negotiate with insurance companies as one entity. More members (patients) under one group means more negotiating power with the insurance companies.
- Patient’s physician refers patient to a particular in-network hospital to which they belong (not necessarily the best physician). Insurance companies must constantly track and report which physicians are in network, which are out-of-network and which are no longer accepting new patients.
- Patient schedules surgery.
- In-network hospital documents request and contacts the insurance company for pre-approval.
- Insurance company nurse or case manager reviews patients file to determine appropriateness of procedures. The hospital may be contacted directly several times to negotiate the “most appropriate” course and duration of treatment.
- Upon approval, hospital contacts patient to confirm surgery.
- Patient fills out all necessary paperwork by hand for the
even though they have filled out this exact information for every new
physician they have ever visited and even though their primary care or
other referring physician already has the information and has
presumably contacted the hospital and/or surgeon to review the
Incidentally, the patient does not know if their physician has spoken directly with their surgeon, nor do they usually know the credentials, history or success rates of the bariatric surgeon they are “getting.”
- Before, during and after surgery, the hospital tracks every charge, from the surgery itself to the napkins provided in the room to the doctor’s time each instance he/she visits the patient. This is often a manual process after which hospital staff input handwritten data into their system.
- During the patient’s hospital stay, the insurance company nurse conducts a “concurrent review” to make sure all treatment, medications and additional bed days are appropriate, required and follow the previously agreed upon course of treatment.
- Insurance company only approves a long enough length of stay to allow the patient to receive the surgery and be physically capable of returning home.
- The insurance company case manager may follow up with the patient after being discharged to ensure no further complications.
- Hospital submits final bill to insurance company.
- For charges over a certain level, the insurance company’s negotiated rates no longer apply. For those claims, representatives from the insurance company must negotiate on a case by case basis.
- Insurance company pays hospital directly for their portion of the costs based on the parameters of the insurance contract.
- Insurance company submits an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to the patient with a high-level itemization of treatment costs, the amount that the insurance paid and the amount that the patient owes.
- Patient, who is typically a layperson and is unfamiliar
details of their insurance contract, must understand the EOB and submit
payment. They must contact the insurance company with any questions or
to dispute charges (by the way, insurance companies have a 3.2% error rate that costs the U.S. $17 - $29
billion per year).10
If insurance company service representative agrees with dispute, they must either approve the new charges themselves in the system or receive management approval. Assuming approval, representative then resubmits the claim whereby they pay the hospital the correct amount and reprocess and send a corrected EOB. Assuming denial, patient and claim get sent through an appeals process whereby an appeals committee gets involved (to keep this as brief as possible, we won’t go down that path).
- Patient pays their portion of the bill to the hospital.
- Upon receipt of payment from the patient, the hospital notifies the insurance company, many of which will track and post the summary of payments on a secure web site for the patient’s review.
- All medical information, from doctor notes, to prescriptions to patient medical history are tracked separately by each facility and physician (sometimes still in paper files).
- Any follow up visits or additional hospital visits due to complications go through the same process.
Important Note: The scroll box above reflects the typical experience of having any type of surgery in the U.S. that is paid for by insurance.
It does not apply if you are financing bariatric surgery without insurance, as working directly with the best bariatric surgeons in the U.S. is often similar to (albeit more expensive than) working with the best surgeons for weight loss surgery Mexico / abroad.
Now contrast this with the international experience in the Process from Start to Finish section below, including both the amount of administration required and the level of attention placed on the patient.
The complex U.S. interactions between the patient, employer, broker or consultant, insurance company, physician and/or hospital are replaced by a straight-forward all-inclusive bill from the international hospital. The focus of the surgeon and hospital is shifted from tracking and collecting money to patient care.
What Is Included in the Cost for Surgery Abroad?
The costs quoted by surgeons abroad includes an impressive amount of services, but there are still a few things you may be on the hook for...
What's Typically Included
- Pre-operative tests and evaluations which may include the following:
- Chest x-ray
- EKG (electrocardiogram)
- Doctor evaluation
- Anesthesiologist evaluation
- Complete blood work
- Urine test
- Nutritionist Fees
- Travel & logistical costs, which may include:
- Transportation to/from hospital
- Use of a telephone to call the U.S. at no charge
- High speed Internet
- Surgery Costs, including:
- Hospital Fees (private rooms)
- Surgeons Fees
- Anesthesiologist Fees
- Antibiotics and Pain Medicine
- Post-Operative Costs
- Post-op tests
- Post-op consultations before hospital discharge(surgeon, nutritionist, etc)
- Cost of complications
- Extra bed for your travel companion (in the same hospital room)
- Cafeteria/food for your guest
- Follow up visits/consultations
- Hotel costs before and after hospital stay<
What May NOT Be Included
The following may or may not be included in the quoted fees...
Ask your prospective surgeon about each of the cost components above to ensure that there are no surprises.
Bariatric Surgery Source
Free Infographic Series
Are you a visual learner? Click the image below to enlarge the infographic for this page...
As long as you go to the right hospital or facility, plastic and bariatric surgery abroad may be as safe as hospitals in the United States.
Here are the 6 caveats for receiving top care abroad...
- The Joint Commission International
- Partnership with hospitals in the United States
- Many surgeons abroad were educated and have practiced in the United States
- Hospital Information Systems are often much more advanced abroad than they are in the U.S.
- Patients can access detailed history and experience of international surgeons
- Doctors back home collaborate with international surgeons
The Joint Commission, the most respected and demanding hospital accreditation agency in the U.S., has an international division called the Joint Commission International (JCI) that accredits hospitals internationally with equally rigorous standards.
Karen Timmons, President and CEO of the JCI, explained how hospital accreditation tests are applied in an article published by Medical Tourism magazine1…
believe the best way to gauge the quality of care provided by an
institution is to trace the journey of patients as they move through
the institution and examine how various departments work together to
provide the care they need. Typically we trace 8 or more patients
during our site visits.”
To receive certification, hospitals abroad must pass detailed testing for 300 standards with 1,200 specific data points that JCI surveyors examine and score. Here is a general overview of what’s reviewed...
"To receive certification, hospitals abroad must pass detailed testing for 300 standards with 1,200 specific data points..."
- Access to care and continuity of care
- Patient and family rights
- Assessment of patients
- Care of patients
- Anesthesia and surgical care
- Medical management and use
- Patient and family education
- Quality improvement and patient safety
- Prevention and control of infections
- Governance, leadership and direction
- Facility management and staff
- Staff qualifications and education
- Management of communication and information
If a hospital outside the U.S. is JCI accredited, you know that they have passed the on-site 3 to 5 day hospital review within the last 3 years.
Before going on, we recommend that you review the Joint Commission International’s accreditation standards to get a better idea of what each of the above steps entails (get ready to be impressed). Their Frequently Asked Questions document is also helpful towards a further understanding of how their program works.
If you are interested in getting weight loss surgery in Canada, the JCI has not gone there to accredit any hospitals so you’ll need to use Accreditation Canada which has similar standards. They also accredit hospitals outside of Canada and are a good cross-reference for JCI-accredited hospitals that you find.
For an additional level of patient confidence and the all-important continuity and coordination of care, hospitals abroad often partner with reputable hospitals in the United States. These international partnerships include services such as…
- Clinical guidelines
- Care plans to help patients with self-care
- Electronic medial records to share information with doctors back home
- Outcome measurement and performance reporting to accurately determine which surgeons and hospitals have the best track record
- Physician and nurse recruitment and training
- Patient satisfaction surveys and reporting
- Medical and professional education
Many doctors abroad were educated and trained in the United States and subsequently returned to their home country. In contrast, about ¼ of all active U.S. physicians are international medical graduates.2
The bottom line is that there are excellent medical education programs all over the world, and great hospitals will attract great surgeons.
Hospital Information Systems (HIS) abroad are often light years ahead of what is used domestically. Better systems means better care and more accurate information to help you determine which surgeon and hospital is right for you.
"Better systems means better care and more accurate information."
For example, a hospital in Thailand’s state-of-the-art information system allows patients to see a doctor within about 17 minutes after arriving. Compare this to the recently measured 4 hour and 3 minute average Emergency Rooms wait time in the U.S.3,4
A Microsoft executive summed up the benefits of state-of-the-art hospital information systems in a recent press release regarding Microsoft’s purchase of a company that offers the advanced technology5...
"We were impressed by Global Care Solutions' state-of-the-art health information system, which has enabled a hugely complex facility like Bumrungrad International hospital to achieve amazing outcomes related to improved workflow and patient safety."
U.S. hospitals who incorporate similar technology have limited success because most U.S. hospitals do not employ doctors across a broad range of expertise. The U.S. specialists use different systems that do not talk with each other, while hospitals abroad often have doctors from all specialties under one roof and system.
Surgeons abroad can also give you detailed medical information summarizing the clinically important information learned during your trip abroad. For example, they may provide you with a CD or digital file that includes your medical summary, vitals, doctor notes, x-rays, sonograms, etc.; everything your doctor back home will need to pick up where your surgeon abroad left off.
Patients and medical travel agents can access the detailed history of international surgeons. This data helps patients select the bariatric surgeon with the most experience and highest success rates at hospitals with the most state-of-the-art technology (below we will discuss how you can find them on your own and which medical travel agents are the best to partner with).
Finding a local doctor or surgeon to work with after you return home is critical for long-term success.
Surgeons abroad should provide you with detailed medical information summarizing the clinically important information learned during your trip abroad. For example, they may provide you with a CD or digital file that includes your medical summary, vitals, doctor notes, x-rays, sonograms, etc., everything your doctor back home will need to pick up where your surgeon abroad left off.
Confirm this with your surgeon abroad before moving forward with them.
Your local doctors and bariatric surgeon can be connected and kept in the loop about treatment abroad. All patients traveling for surgery should partner with a local surgeon or doctor for the necessary follow-up care.
Unfortunately, this may be easier said than done. Many local bariatric surgeons will not be excited to take on the liability of addressing any problems that arise unless they were the ones to perform the initial surgery. Before making the decision to travel abroad, be sure you confirm that a local surgeon will work with you for follow up care.
The Medical Tourism Association recently released their first Patient Survey and received the feedback below from patients who traveled abroad for surgery6:
(click one of the following links to jump to the question and patient responses or use the scroll bar in the box below the links to review all questions and responses)
- What type of procedure did you travel for?
- Did you travel alone or with a companion?
- How would you rate the hospital you received medical care at?
- Did you use a medical tourism facilitator (or a company that was an intermediary and helped coordinate your care)?
- How helpful did you find the medical tourism facilitator?
- Would you recommend a future patient to use a medical tourism facilitator?
- Was there a language barrier or communication problem at the hospital?
- Did you feel safe overseas?
- Do you feel the service you received was more than in the U.S.?
- Would you recommend a friend, relative, or acquaintance to travel internationally for medical care?
- Would you travel internationally again for medical care?
- Did you have health insurance when you traveled internationally for medical care?
- How do you feel your overall experience compared to what you would have experienced in the United States?
- Were you concerned about having to sue in a foreign country in the event of medical malpractice?
Of all medical travel patients surveyed, more traveled abroad for weight loss surgery than for any other procedure.
- 12% - Cosmetic
- 22% - Orthopedic
- 2% - Spine
- 32% - Weight Loss/Bariatric
- 0% - Lasik
- 32% - Other
- 17% - Alone
- 83% - Companion
- 70% - Excellent
- 27% - Very Good
- 3% - Average
- 0% - Below Average
- 0% - Poor
Did you use a medical tourism facilitator (or a company that was an intermediary and helped coordinate your care)?
- 51% - Yes
- 49% - No
- 37% - Extremely helpful
- 12% - Helpful
- 7% - Somewhat helpful
- 0% - Not helpful
- 44% - Not applicable
- 59% - Yes
- 17% - Maybe
- 2% - No
- 22% - Not applicable
- 71% - Not at all
- 29% - Occasional problems but did not significantly affect my experience
- 0% - Yes significantly affected my experience
- 56% - Very safe
- 37% - Safe
- 7% - Somewhat safe
- 0% - Not safe
- 85% - Yes
- 15% - No
- 93% - Yes
- 7% - Maybe
- 0% - No
- 88% - Yes
- 10% - Maybe
- 2% - No
- 42% - Yes
- 58% - No
- 63% - Better than it would have been in the USA
- 37% - Equal to what it would have been in the USA
- 0% - Worse than it would have been in the USA
- 5% - Concerned
- 19% - Somewhat concerned
- 76% - Not concerned
Intuition Communication, through their Treatment Abroad subsidiary, conducted a survey of 650 patients who traveled abroad from Great Britain for care and had similar findings7...
- 83% “wanted to save on the cost of treatment in the UK”
- 9 out of 10 respondents were very (74%) or quite satisfied (16%) with their experience of treatment abroad
- 97% of the medical tourists stated that they would definitely or probably go for treatment abroad again
- 96% of all respondents would definitely or probably go back to the same doctor/dentist/hospital/clinic
- 96% of all respondents would recommend treatment abroad to a friend or relative.
YOUR Weight Loss Journey*
Help visitors like you by sharing your advice related to this page or other topics...
As the first survey above indicates:
- 32% of all medical travel patients go abroad for bariatric surgery
- 12% go for plastic surgery
- 42% of all patients went even though they had insurance
Your decision about whether it’s right for you comes down to a few key factors…
- Safety – review the General Concerns section below to understand the risks of traveling before and after surgery. There are precautions that need to be taken very seriously, and following the guidelines of your weight loss surgery Mexico or other international bariatric surgeon and local doctor are extremely important for a successful outcome.
- Money – you should weigh the savings and risks specific to your situation. Review the Bariatric Surgery Medical Tourism Costs section below to get a general idea of the savings you’ll realize by going abroad. You’ll have to decide if the savings realized outweigh your specific risks and the inconvenience of travel.
- Travel Companion – you absolutely need someone you trust to go with you for support and to help you through the process. If no one you trust is able to go with you, it’s best to research bariatric doctors in your area. If money is an issue, first review our Bariatric Surgery Financing page.
Partnering with a
Partnering with a local surgeon for aftercare following bariatric surgery or plastic surgery abroad may be easier said than done.
Surgeons are running a business and make most of their money from the procedure itself. They may not be too excited about taking on the low-margin follow-up care and opening themselves up to liability when they did not receive the income from the initial procedure.
However, some procedures (like lap band surgery) require more follow up than others (like gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery).
Work with your medical travel agent or your international surgeon’s team to find a good local doctor that is willing to partner with you and your surgeon abroad.
There are 6 things that you should keep in mind when considering a trip abroad for bariatric surgery…
- Partner with a local plastic or bariatric surgeon and your primary care physician for long-term follow-up care (see sidebar to the right).
- Determine whether the country in which you are having surgery requires vaccinations. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) site has up-to-date recommendations for most locations.
- Preparations for surgery are the same whether or not you travel. You will work with your chosen surgeon abroad via phone or video call to agree upon an appropriate bariatric diet and weight loss surgery exercise program prior to traveling.
- You should plan a day or two of rest and relaxation once you get to your destination. Don’t jump right into surgery. This will make the experience much less stressful and will give you time to get over the jet lag and culture shock before beginning your stay in the hospital.
- You should also plan to stay in the country for at least 2 weeks following surgery. This is needed for proper recovery and evaluation by your surgeon before traveling home. In addition, surgeons abroad will often include the costs of follow up treatment or treatment resulting from complications in the initial price quoted.
- The biggest
risk of traveling for surgery is deep
(DVT), which is the formation of a blood clot in one of the
usually in the lower leg.
The risk for DVT increases after all surgeries, especially when the patient is immobile for long periods of time. To reduce the risk, you should take preventive measures from the time you leave to the time you get home...
- Stop smoking as soon as possible. The increased risk of blood clots that tobacco causes can last 6 weeks or more after your last puff, so quitting the day before you travel won't cut it.
- Lose as much weight as possible before you travel – the lower your body mass index (BMI), the less risk you have for both DVT and bariatric surgery complications in general
- Get enough exercise to be at least minimally fit
- Discuss stopping birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy with your doctor, as they can thicken your blood and increase the risk of DVT
- Ask your weight loss surgery Mexico or other international surgeon about using a pneumatic compression device during and after surgery
- Ask your weight loss surgery Mexico or other international surgeon if taking an anticoagulant (blood thinner) is necessary while traveling
- Travel on an airline with sufficient leg room
- Wear loose clothing
- Walk briskly for at least half an hour before takeoff
- On the plane:
- Ask your doctor whether wearing elastic flight socks or graduated compression stockings is appropriate
- Don’t stow carry-on baggage under seat (you’ll need the leg room)
- Take deep breaths frequently throughout the flight
- Flex your calves and rotate your ankles every 20 to 30 minutes
- Walk up and own the aisle at least once every 2 hours
- Sleep only for short periods (do not take sleeping pills)
- Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and diet soda
- Don’t let stockings or clothing roll up or constrict your legs
- Insurance in Case of Complications (also called Medical Tourism Insurance or Medical Travel Insurance) - Whether you have surgery close to home or outside the country, any surgery carries a risk of complications. If you're paying for your procedure abroad out of pocket, it's a good idea to buy insurance that will pay for any complications that arise after you return home. This will also make any local doctor or surgeon more likely to commit to working with you.
- Before traveling:
Medical Travel Insurance Companies
Following is a list of Medical Travel Insurance companies. We have not worked directly with any of these companies and this list does not imply any recommendations or endorsements. Talk with your surgeon abroad for their recommendations and experiences before making a selection.
Have you worked with another insurance company? Please contact us.
Policies differ greatly between company and plan, so be sure to get all of the details before making a selection such as:
- Cost of plan (obviously)
- Deductibles and other potential out of pocket expenses
- Which countries the coverage applies in (e.g. confirm that the policy will pay for coverage received after returning home)
- Whether the policy requires you to receive care within a certain network of providers (or whether you can go to any doctor/facility that you choose)
- How long the policy remains in effect (when coverage terminates)
- Whether the insurance company will pay providers directly or whether they require you to pay first (then reimburse you)
- Any applicable coverage limits (such as maximum amount they will pay)
- Other coverages that are included under the policy (such as regular travel insurance, etc.)
Following is the typical medical travel experience assuming you use a reputable and qualified medical travel agent…
(Use the scroll bar on the right to review the list)
- Patient contacts health travel agent or qualified surgeon in Mexico and reviews their medical history.
- Medical travel agent or surgeon reviews physician-recommended bariatric surgery.
- Medical travel agent or surgeon's office coordinates a call between the patient’s local physician and the weight loss surgery Mexico surgeon to discuss the patient and their chosen surgery.
- Surgeon abroad communicates all-inclusive charge:
- Hospital stay
- All surgeon discussions, including 24/7 access to actual surgeon’s home and/or cell phone
- All nurse visits, sometimes including daily massage and food delivery
- All prescriptions and hospital room amenities
- All follow up calls and treatment, including any additional visits if necessary (most complications arise within 2 weeks after treatment, so it is recommended that patient stays near the hospital for at least 2 weeks following surgery).
The best surgeon and hospital abroad is specific to each patient.
In addition to ensuring that your chosen surgeon has the appropriate expertise and access to technology, you must also feel personally comfortable with them. To get started...
- Search for qualified surgeons that perform your procedure.
- Click here to access our Mexico Surgeon Directory
(best option for United States residents)
- Click here to locate surgeons in other countries (link coming soon)
- Click here to access our Mexico Surgeon Directory
- Make sure the hospitals on your list are accredited by the Joint
(or at least undergoing the accreditation process) or, if considering Canada, Accreditation Canada. There are many other
good accreditation organizations throughout the
world, although the JCI’s and Accreditation Canada’s standards are the most
well-known and respected.
- Choose 2 or 3 surgeons abroad and talk with them
Ideally, set up a video conference so you can see each other while
talking (video calls are free via companies like Skype or Ekiga). You should walk away
feeling confident in your surgeon’s experience and qualifications.
See our 4 Steps to Find the Right Weight Loss Surgeon page to learn the necessary homework and how to interview your potential surgeons.
There are also several good weight loss surgery Mexico and medical travel books available with a complete list of questions to ask doctors abroad along with the answers you should look for. We like the information provided in Patients Beyond Borders by Josef Woodman (aff).
Despite the common “Medical Tourism” title, the primary goal of medical travel is to have a successful procedure for a lower cost - not tourism. If you have the vacation time, you and your companion can explore your destination country before surgery, but you should plan to take it easy afterwards.
In addition to learning about and feeling completely comfortable with the concept of surgery abroad, patients investigating weight loss surgery Mexico or medical travel in general will need assistance in...
- Coordinating care between physician(s) at home and the surgeon abroad
- Completing the necessary paperwork
- Obtaining the proper travel documents
- Arranging travel and tourism logistics (i.e. flights, hotels, after-surgery resorts, in-country assistance, travel documents, etc.)
- Preparing for a new culture
This is where medical travel agents and the more advanced international hospitals and weight loss surgery centers will step in to help. The best agencies and hospitals/centers will...
- Provide you with user-friendly educational information about weight loss surgery Mexico (or other countries) and medical travel in general
- Facilitate interaction with and coordinate care between your surgeon abroad and hometown physician
- Streamline the paperwork
- Coordinate the highest quality travel partners, including transportation, lodging and vacation packages if applicable
Medical travel agents' services differ from those of the best international hospitals in one key way: they find and interact with multiple qualified surgeons and hospitals on your behalf and help you choose which is best for you... for a price.
If you find a few surgeons and hospitals on your own that fit your requirements, we recommend first working with them directly. If the surgeon's hospital is JCI-accredited and the surgeon and their team meet your criteria, find out if they can help with the bulleted items listed above.
If they can do everything on the list, there's no need to pay for a medical travel agent.
Double-check Work from Weight Loss Surgery Mexico or Other Medical Travel Agent
Regardless of how confident you feel about your medical travel agent's abilities, it's always a good idea to double check their work by interviewing the surgeon directly.
After all, you're the one having surgery, and it's important that you feel comfortable with your surgeon and hospital beforehand.
If your prospective surgeon's team or hospital cannot do everything on the list (and you'd like the help) or if you're struggling with which hospital or surgeon to go with, a good medical travel agent's fees may be worth it.
Ask your chosen medical travel service directly about their services and charges as each is different. They are usually paid through a fee that is often bundled into the packaged price negotiated for your treatment.
If the surgeon or hospital you found on your own does not help with tedious activities such as travel arrangements and coordination of care with your doctors at home, a good medical travel agent...
- Will take an enormous amount of work off of your plate by coordinating everything for you which leaves you to focus on preparing for surgery.
- Knows the process, so you can feel confident that no step will be missed.
- Is experienced in working directly with hospitals abroad. As a result, their negotiated savings can be more than you could arrange by yourself. The savings may even offset their fees.
It is common practice for agencies to provide you with a packaged price for their service then ask for a deposit. Your designated agent will provide you with enough information to get started, including...
- Data on specific treatment centers and physicians for weight loss surgery Mexico (or other countries)
- Advice on medical records and in-country procedures
- Telephone consultation with physician or surgeon
Next you’ll decide whether or not you want to engage their services. If you don’t, you lose your deposit (which pays them for the work they’ve already done). If you do move forward, you’ll pay another installment - usually between 25 and 50% of the entire packaged price.
Another payment will be due prior to surgery, and then the final payment is paid when leaving the hospital.
There are also medical travel agents that you “pay as you go” (PYG). They are a referral service rather than the full-blown broker described above. The PYG medical travel agents provide information about hospitals and physicians, airfares and vacation opportunities, but they rarely stay involved afterwards.
Additional Plastic / Weight Loss Surgery Mexico & Abroad Online Resources
FDA’s Center for Drugs for regulations about bringing prescriptions back into the US
Immunization recommendations - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations
Tax information at the IRS site. Type “medical deductions” in the search box provided and scroll down to find the most recent information.
If you decide to work with an agent, we recommend working with brokers to make sure you don’t miss anything. The last thing you need is to arrive in a different country and realize that there are still loose ends to figure out.
If you’d like to do more research before moving forward on your own or with a medical travel agent, check out the following...
Essential Reading for Weight Loss Surgery Mexico / Medical Tourism
- Patients Beyond Borders by Josef Woodman
- YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment by Michael F. Foizen and Mehmet C. Oz
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References for Weight Loss Surgery Mexico & Abroad
- JCI CORNER The Value of Accreditation. Medical Tourism Magazine. Oct 2007. Available at: http://www.medicaltourismmag.com/issue-detail.php?item=14&issue=1
- Hart LG, Skillman SM, Fordyce M, Thompson M, Hagopian A,
Konrad TR. International medical graduate physicians in the United
States: changes since 1981.
Health Aff (Millwood). 2007 Jul-Aug;26(4):1159-69.
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- Press Release: Patients Spent an Average of Four Hours and
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- MTA Releases First Patient Surveys on Medical Tourism. Medical Tourism Magazine. June 2009. Available at: http://www.medicaltourismmag.com/detail.php?Req=224&issue=10
- Medical tourist survey: 2008 report. Treatment Abroad. Available at: http://www.treatmentabroad.com/about/medical-tourist-research-about/
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- Bariatric surgery costs for non-U.S. locations obtained from allmedicaltourism.com database (accessed Dec 21, 2009) which can be found at: http://www.allmedicaltourism.com/index.asp?ClearCurrentSelected=1