Medical tourism: what to know before traveling for weight loss surgery

It is estimated that this year a quarter of a million people will undergo bariatric surgical procedures in the United States for the treatment of obesity and morbid obesity. Roux-n-Y gastric bypass surgery, considered the gold standard of weight loss surgery, will be performed more frequently at a cost of $ 40,000 or more per surgery. The less invasive gastric band and gastric band procedures will be performed for about $ 20,000 per surgery. More and more people choose to travel outside the United States to undergo these procedures in accredited facilities where quality and safety are guaranteed by international government agencies and costs are less than half.

Medical tourism: The process of "leaving home" to receive treatments and care abroad or in other places nationwide is an emerging phenomenon in the healthcare industry. A 2008 study suggests that Americans leave their homes more than ever to receive medical care outside national borders in an effort to seek quality and less expensive medical care. Consider these points reported by the Deloitte 2008 Healthcare Consumer Survey:

  • Health care costs increase by eight percent annually, well above the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which affects corporate earnings and disposable household income.
  • The safety and quality of care available in many offshore environments is no longer a problem: organizations such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) and others are accrediting these facilities.


Receiving safe and quality care is the main problem for consumers who consider outbound medical tourism as a treatment option. Consumers seeking treatment outside the U.S. borders should look for centers that have been reviewed by the Joint Commission International (JCI), which was launched in 1999 after a growing demand for a resource to effectively assess the quality and safety. There are more than 120 hospitals worldwide that are accredited through JCI. Patients should also look for programs that promote these attributes:

  • Doctors and care teams trained in the USA. UU.
  • English language services
  • Use of clinical information technologies.
  • Use of evidence-based clinical guidelines.
  • Affiliations with accredited organizations of top US suppliers. UU.
  • Coordination of pre and post discharge care.
  • Provision for adverse events that require services not available at the facility


Security questions are answered in frequent reviews by JCI and other governing bodies to protect the safety and rights of the medical tourist. Security questions in the accreditation process include:

  • Are accreditation certificates periodically renewed?
  • Does the hospital follow all standard safety standards? Are disposable items being properly serviced?
  • Are the food and hospitalization facilities hygienic?
  • Does the staff speak English fluently or is the interpreter competent to avoid any lack of communication?
  • How safe and secure is the environment on the provider's site?
  • What are the precautions that should be taken for post-procedure care?

Packages and Financing:

Packages will often include, but are not limited to, hospital stay, hotel stay, ground transportation, blood tests and x-rays, surgery, anesthesiologist fees, surgeon assistant fees, surgeon fees, nurses fees, medication high, medical devices and miscellaneous. Transportation to and from the destination and the cost of a travel companion are not included in most packages. Many centers facilitate the financing of the medical procedures they offer through an external financing company that is not associated with the medical facility.