Houston Matters

The cost of health care isn’t the only thing motivating some medical tourists

Some Houstonians are traveling much farther than Mexico for health care — and for reasons other than the rising cost of health care.



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When faced with the skyrocketing costs of medical procedures and medications, many Americans opt to travel outside the United States, where the same procedures and medicine are sometimes only a fraction of the cost. And they're not just going to nearby countries like Mexico.

Among them: sound artist and former Houstonian Maria Chavez. She was returning to live performance after a four-year hiatus because of a debilitating brain disorder. She couldn't afford surgery to correct it by an American neurosurgeon, so she found one in Japan.

Conceptual sound artist Maria Chavez.

MORE: Check out the conceptual sounds of ‘abstract turntablist' Maria Chavez

In the audio above, she tells us about it.

Then we talk with Moramay López-Alonso, an economic historian and associate professor at Rice University, about how cost isn't the only variable medical tourists need to consider. (Just over a month ago, four Americans were kidnapped in Mexico while seeking cheaper medical treatment. Two of those four were later found dead).

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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