According to the N.Y. Times, health insurer Wellpoint is testing a new program that permits those insured to go to India for elective surgery, with no out-of-pocket medical costs and free travel for both the patient and a companion. The pilot program arranges for patients to be picked up at the airport and provides special meals to prevent food-borne illnesses. The program complies with the American Medical Association guidelines on medical tourism and uses hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International.
By the year 2010, more than 6 million Americans annually will be seeking medical treatment abroad. The potential savings are significant. Knee surgery that costs $70,000 to $80,000 in the United States can be performed in India for $8,000 to $10,000, including follow-up care and rehabilitation.