Medical tourist pays $9,000 for shoulder repair, saves more than $120,000

One of the biggest challenges for self-pay patients who are uninsured is paying for very expensive treatments and procedures that can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This month’s issue of Medical Tourism Magazine reports on how one self-pay patient handled their situation by traveling overseas to Thailand for his surgery.

Summer Vacation: American in Bangkok gives medical tourism thumbs up 

…Jeff Wheeler is back on American soil after taking a three-week hiatus to Southeast Asia, where he traveled to Viet Nam to explore Hanoi, Da Nang and the tunnels of Chi Chi before returning to Thailand and a hospital in Bangkok to complete shoulder replacement surgery and correct an old work injury…

Shoulder replacement overseas cost Wheeler roughly $9,000, about 80 percent less than the $130,000 a Massachusetts hospital had quoted him for repairs and more than enough in savings to cover his travel and sightseeing expenses for exotic excursions… 

Representatives from Planet Hospital, a California-based medical tourism facilitator, met with Wheeler and assigned a local woman to guide their patient through the process, Wheeler told the Bangor Daily News. He said medical tourism opportunities overseas are not what some Americans may perceive them to be, but rather procedures that involve top-notch care and facilities. “It (medical tourism) worked for me,” said Wheeler, who also had a tooth filled by a Thai dentist during his time in Bangkok. “Everybody has to assess their own needs and what they’re capable of and what they’re comfortable with. But, I think if they get outside their comfort zone a little bit, they’ll find some benefit in it.”

My calculator is of the $2-at-Staples variety, but it tells me his savings were closer to 93% than 80%. Setting that aside though, the article clearly shows just how affordable overseas options are for self-pay patients willing to travel.

The story mentions Planet Hospital as one U.S. company that helps to arrange overseas travel for medical tourists, but there are several other companies that do the same thing. These include Med, and WorldMed Assist.

Individuals considering overseas travel as a medical tourist should carefully look into the reputations of the facilities under consideration. One resource to consider is the Joint Commission International, which accredits hospitals around the world based on their quality of care and adherence to medical standards.

Overseas travel isn’t going to be everybody’s first choice. But for many, such as Jeff Wheeler, the alternative was going without needed treatment because the cost of care in the U.S. was too much. For self-pay patients who find themselves in that situation, medical tourism provides an excellent option to save a substantial amount of money and get the care they need.

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7 Responses to Medical tourist pays $9,000 for shoulder repair, saves more than $120,000

  1. Eric says:

    When having medical work done in Thailand, there’s no need to go through a middleman company. Virtually anyone going to Thailand for medical purposes from the States will use the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. You can make all the arrangements there on their website. They even have an apartment/style hotel on their hospital campus … and many more nearby. The hospital literally feels like a 5-star hotel. My family has used their services many times, mainly while I was living in Asia.

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  6. salim says:

    speaking of southeast asia, my favorite medical tourism hospital i would recommend is found at & those interested can contact Dr. Yen Ang at
    God bless!

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