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National Harbor hosting healthcare providers at World Medical Tourism conference

Medical tourism is emerging as the best alternative to affordable healthcare.

Companies across America are sending employees to places like Costa Rica and France for treatment and surgery. And at the Cleveland Clinic, patients are welcomed with massage while awaiting treatment.

That's the message that the Medical Tourism Association® plans to deliver at its 7th World Medical Tourism & Healthcare Congress, September 20 - 24 in National Harbor, Md. Some 3,000 healthcare professionals are coming to the Gaylord National Resort, seeking reliable information related to safety and quality at healthcare facilities around the world.

Certification and strategies for healthcare providers, employers, facilitators, and related government policy makers, is the key to expnading medical tourism. Even spa resorts like Brazil's Kurotel, and Ojai Valley Inn are getting aboard.

Enhancing the patient experience before, during, and beyond their return home is their goal.

Catch the Wave

A growing wave of Americans frustrated by the rising costs of the U.S. healthcare system are heading abroad for medical procedures. Nearly one million Americans go overseas for procedures every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Outsourcing medical care has saved one company nearly $10 million in healthcare costs in the past five years. Close to 250 of North Carolina's HSM Co. employees have traveled abroad so far for medical tourism procedures, and more are scheduled to go. (Source: ABC News )

In the United States, knee replacement would have cost more than $50,000. In Costa Rica, the procedure costs half that amount at $23,531. In North Carolina, gastric sleeve surgery would have cost about $30,000, but in Costa Rice, the procedure comes to $17,386.

Now, resorts are teaming with medical centers, offering concierge services during recuperation. At the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesotta, you can attend cooking classes and get a massage while healing from surgery.

As the lines blur between wellness and healthcare, medical tourism takes on new meaning.

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