Why do people travel abroad for medical tourism? Cost is the big reason. Today, forty-seven million Americans are uninsured. The cost of treatment for medical or surgical procedures in the U.S. is often prohibitive and far beyond the average person’s ability to pay for it. Many people who need help put off seeking it because they simply cannot afford it. Many surgical procedures (i.e. heart bypass, joint replacement, spinal disc repair, Lasik eye surgery, Lapband weight reduction surgery) cost 50% to 90% less abroad. Those huge savings can make the cost of even major medical care affordable for anyone forced to pay out of pocket for treatment. Medical tourism companies like Medbirds () are helping patients find affordable, high quality surgeons and facilities abroad. Medbirds is a U.S.-based medical tourism facilitator founded by a seasoned group of U.S. health care professionals and has expanded rapidly to become a major player in the global health care market. The company connects patients to 5-star medical facilities in Thailand and India. These two countries are clearly the strongest choices in terms of price, capability and quality. Even when a medical tourist factors in the cost of airfare for himself and his companion (accommodations, meals, other travel-related expenses, and the cost of the procedure itself), the cost savings are striking. In most cases, even when patients fly halfway around the world and stay at top hotels, they are still saving huge sums of money as compared to having received care in North America. For more information on Medical Tourism, see: WSOC-TV July 2009, 9 Investigates: Patients Going Outside U.S. for Cheaper Medical Treatments .