Transcript for American Companies Send Workers on Surgery Vacations
There is something happens all around you tonight proving that american health care costs have been out of control far and away the highest in the world. So people are taking their business abroad tonight. Abc's byron pitts got on a plane with some of the 1 million americans who are in a sense paid by their employers to go on a surgical vacation. Reporter: For 39-year-old joy gulon of hickory, north carolina. This is her first timen a plane. Reporter: Her destination? The sun soaked south american hot spot, costa rica. A four star hotel. Local driver, personal concierge. But a full fledged vacation it's not. Joy is a medical tourist. She's come to costa rica for wright loss surgery because of a family history of diabetes and heart disease. Could you have afforded this at home? No. No chance? No. Reporter: And what's more, her company is paying the entire bill. They gave joy as choice. A traditional insurance plan or out sourcing her care in a foreign country. Out of pocket, how much we have to spend? Nothing, zero. Reporter: Back home joy's gastric sleeve surgery goes for $30,000. Here, less than $18,000. Her company, hsm, a furniture manufacturer in western, nc tells abc news it has saved nearly $10 million in health care cost the past 5 years by sending close to 250 employees abroad for medical procedures. Another hsm employee on the costa rica trip is 65-year old gary harwell. A retired plant manager, gary's going for knee replacement. His doctor who earned his medical degree in latin america has received advanced training in the u.S. In the u.S. Gary's knee replacement would have cost more than $50,000. In costa rica it's half that. In the u.S. Gary and joy would have each paid $3,000 out of pocket. In costa rica, nothing. when the bandages come off, joy and gary will get a bonus check for at least $2,500 from their company. A percentage of the corporate savings in insurance costs. But medical experts who are tracking the increasing number of americans going abroad for medical care are concerned. What are the biggest challenges? Risk of infection. Risk of a poorly performed procedure. Reporter: At this private hospital there has been a very low rate of problems. For patients like joy, the opportunity outweighs the risk, the opportunity of a better, healthier life without breaking the bank. Byron pitts, abc news. We move on. Tonight we are learning about an
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