“Typically, a knee replacement costs $35,000 in the United States,” says International Living Executive Editor, Jennifer Stevens. “Take that amount to one of the best-value locales we recommend abroad—places where where healthcare is high quality but prices are low—and you could not only have your knee replaced by a well-qualified surgeon in a state-of-the-art facility, but you could also afford to take a year off and relax—all expenses paid.
“With rising costs of surgery in the U.S. we see more and more people going overseas as medical tourists. It can be a great way to test-drive a retirement outside of the States. Have a procedure done and then spend a few months recuperating—it’ll cost less than the surgery alone in the States. Folks already living abroad regularly praise the quality of care and the friendly, welcoming doctors, which complement the low price tags quite nicely.”
The International Living report details five great retirement hubs that offer knee replacements at a fraction of the U.S. cost.
Medical Tourism in Mexico
Mexico has long been a favorite for expats looking for a haven where they can make the most of their retirement, full- or part-time. The country’s close proximity to the U.S. and Canada—as well as its affordable cost of living and great healthcare—attracts folks looking for a nearby option.
In Mexico, every medium to large city has at least one first-rate hospital. And a big plus is that most doctors and dentists in Mexico received at least part of their training in the U.S.
In 2001, Patrice Wynne moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands. She started a fair-trade boutique, Abrazos San Miguel, offering textile products created with Mexican seamstresses.
When Patrice needed not one but two knee replacements, she found the level of care and professionalism among medical staff in the nearby city of Queretaro to be first-class—not to mention significantly cheaper than in the States.
“Several people have expressed surprise when I shared that I was not in major excruciating pain from having both knees replaced at the same time,” she says. “When I interviewed Dr. Fidel Dobarganes I asked many questions about the pain issue. He assured me that he has a pain-management plan that works, that it did not involve addictive drugs, and that on a post-op patient survey of pain level ranked 1-10, his patients scored 2 as the average. It proved to be true.
“I chose Dr Dobarganes after our first meeting because of his humanity, as well as his reputation and patient references—he has done 8,000 knee and hip surgeries and has been trained in Mexico, the U.S., and Germany.
“When I was wheeled into the operating room, I was dumbstruck by the modern new equipment. In fact, everything about my operation and the stay in the hospital was sophisticated.
“My total costs were originally estimated at just over $19,500. But because of my work in the community, the doctor obtained a reduction of $7,350 for the hospital stay, so the final cost for the dual surgery was $12,250. And it is customary in Mexico to allow a family member to stay in the room at no cost, including hospital cafeteria meals. My husband had his own bed in my room for four days.
“[By contrast,] when I called to have my initial consultation with the surgeon I was hoping to use in Northern California, the cost was $1,250 plus $500 in X-rays. The initial visit and subsequent post-op visits to see Dr Dobarganes in Queretaro were $40 each with $20 in X-ray fees.”