Ever since my un-expected encounter with mortality and the French medical system back in 2007 (“Thinking about Having Brain Surgery During Your Stay?”), I have been encouraging my fellow Americans to come to France for medical care. Not only do they have some of the best doctors and hospitals in Europe, but the price is definitely right. For example, a friend told me that an MRI can cost up to $6,000 in the US, while here it would cost $200 max (and I should know, I get them every two years). For that price, you could come to France, take a tour of the Loire Valley, get your MRI and still have spare change. The only tricky part would be the paperwork: stuff like visas, insurance papers, and making sure your prescriptions/doctor’s instructions would be accepted on this side of the pond.
But it seems that is no longer an issue. After watching from afar as Germany, Belgium and the UK profited from US medical pricing excesses, France has finally jumped on the medical-tourism bandwagon. As of November 1, the French public hospital network (Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris) is launching a medical tourism program aimed directly at foreign visitors who wish to benefit from competitive prices and quality care. And while that care usually comes in a plain brown wrapper here in France (bland waiting rooms, ugly doctors offices, minimal creature comfort options), this new program offers packages that include medical care, hotel stay and concierge service. You simply send in your application with your medical records to a hospital specialist with a secure server, and they send you back a quote for the package.
The only catch? They want you to prepay.