When I lived in Washington state many years ago, there was a booming business of companies that took people by the busload to Canada to get their prescriptions filled. At the time I couldn’t imagine how the price difference could be so vastly different that it would cover the costs associated with such a trip.
Then I began traveling long term.
I take some medications chronically, so I’ve had to refill them as we’ve traveled. For the most part, it’s been extremely simple. I only had issues in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand with getting my medications without a prescription.
The costs of these medicines have been amazing. In the US, a 30-day supply of my antihypertensive (for high blood pressure) cost $170 before insurance. My insurance copay was $50. In most of the countries we’ve visited, this same pill has cost as low as $10 for a 2-month supply.
When looking at getting medications, a fellow traveler figured out she could fly to Mexico and back and get a year’s supply of her medications more cheaply than buying them in the US.
One of the times we were in Thailand, my body decided to get rid of a rather large fragment left over from blasting my kidney stone with a laser. I was able to walk into a pharmacy and walk out with the antibiotic I knew I needed, a medication to help increase urine flow, and a narcotic to reduce the pain. All without a prescription.
In addition to medications that can be quite expensive in the US, there are some treatments, such as medicinal CBD oil, that have shown amazing promise but are often not approved for legal use in a country or in most regions.
I’ve shared before how I spent the night in an emergency room in Australia, received medication, had blood draws, had a couple of minor procedures, was cared for primarily by the doctor, and also was treated by a specialist all for $220 USD.
Thailand has so many visitors to the country specially for medical tourism that they have a website and division dedicated to it.
Then there are the stories like the man who discovered his hip replacement surgery would cost about $78,000 in the US, but he could travel to Belgium, have the procedure, rehab, cover the flights, etc., for $13,000. That’s a huge difference.
What about quality of care? Well, you might be surprised to discover that many countries are rated much higher than the US for medical care. The son of one of our friends needed surgery in Hong Kong, and she found the conditions and quality to be even better than those in the UK.
I’ve heard from many people who have had procedures done overseas, and they all share similar positive stories.
So, if you needed another excuse to travel. . .
What has your experience been with health care in foreign countries?