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Medical Tourism A GOOD IDEA?

It started with a phone call.

Alison Hamilton of Casa Ciudad de Mexico – also known as Casa Mexico City – invited me to tag along on an upcoming health care tour of Mexico City. Her organization promotes medical tourism and other activities in Mexico’s capital.

While I couldn’t take the trip, I was curious. Get your heart bypass surgery done in Mexico City?

As it turns out, Mexico City officials have visited Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego several times this year, reaching out to health care professionals and insurers, among others. They have been pitching the idea that medical facilities in Mexico City are less expensive, safe and of equal quality to those in the United States.

Some Chicagoans already are going to Mexico for some of their medical care; many of them have roots in the country. But the biggest factor luring them south of the border is health care costs, which generally are lower.

Is medical tourism a good idea?

Patients – yes, you readers – will have to decide what is best for you. There are upsides and downsides, which are discussed in today’s story.

Experts say first do your research.

Before you book your flight, consult with the health professionals who will be treating you. Where were they trained? What is their level of experience? Can you communicate easily with them? How much do you know about the health facility? What happens if you have a complication when you return home? Do the financial numbers add up to an actual savings? Are there charity programs or other resources that would help you get the care you need closer to home?

Weigh your options, check with your health provider and talk to those closest to you.

To find out whether a health facility outside the U.S. is accredited by the organization that accredits and certifies hospitals in this country, go here: http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/Accreditation-and-Certification-Process/

-- Deborah L. Shelton

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Published Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:59 AM by Zinnia Q.


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