Sunday, September 23, 2007

Uninsured Americans traveling to Panama for health care


U.S. residents are trimming exorbitant medical bills by visiting Panama clinics.

PANAMA CITY, Panama - Americans are traveling abroad for medical care like never before and now looking to Panama as a destination to cure their insurance woes, high prices and delaysfor treatment back home.

This Central American nation touts U.S.-trained doctors, high-tech hospitals and costs far below U.S. rates to attract Americans for services from dental implants to hip replacements. It also promotes its location near U.S. shores.

"In the beginning of medical tourism, Americans went to distant places like Thailand and India. It seems logical the next step would be Latin America — closer to the United States and more similar in culture," said Panamanian dentist Richard Ford, who studied at Louisiana State University and leads a medical tourism group, Pana-Health.

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