This story over in About Destination Healthcare - the Health Travel Guides blog - is so typical, I wanted to share the opening anecdote.
Oregonians Justyne and Karl retired to the good life ten years ago, with a full pension from Karl's corporate job and relatively good health. The Great Recession had not hit yet, and the couple anticipated a full, rich retirement. Karl's lush benefits even came with fully-paid health insurance, a luxury many fellow retirees did not have.
But here's the catch. They don't have dental insurance.
Now in their seventies, they were flabbergasted when Justyne learned that she needed dental implants and what they would cost in their small city.
The cost -- for the four needed implants in a denture -- was more than Justyne and Karl paid for their first little 3-bedroom ranch house in 1965. Not quite the "billions and billions" that scientist Carl Sagan once spoke of, rather thousands and thousands.
There's a bigger catch, of course, which is that dental insurance rarely covers much of the cost of veneers, implants, bridges and dentures. Why should fixing our smile put our bank accounts in a fix? The cost of dental care in the US seems to be price-fixed to break the bank.
Which is probably why dental tourism has taken off in the past decade. Companies like Dental Travel Guides take patients to Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica to save more than 75% on US prices -working with dentists who work exclusively with US labs (Ironically, to compete, some US dentists are using Mexican labs, a practice most reputable Mexican dentists eschew).