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How safe is having medical treatment abroad, and just how much money can you save?

With an estimated 50,000 Brits traveling to Europe alone for health treatment each year, it's easy to see just how popular medical tourism has become. But is it safe and just how much money can you save?

Well, firstly the savings can be great. Private treatment in the UK is amongst the most expensive in the world. Just a short flight to Turkey, Poland or the Czech Republic could save you thousands of pounds.

For example, a knee placement costs over £8,000 in the UK, but in countries such as India, patients pay as little as £4,000.

But these savings must be balanced with the greater risks associated with medical treatment abroad. Few healthcare industries around the world are as well regulated as that found in the UK. The private care industry in Britain is closely monitored and exceptionally well run. There are very few sub-standard private hospitals or doctors working in the UK. By traveling abroad for medical treatment, you will invariably lose such high protection.

However, it's also important to realise that not all medical care abroad involves greater risk than treatment at home. Indeed, many counties offer private healthcare of an equally high standard as you'll find in the very best UK clinics.

The key issue when considering medical treatment abroad, is to carry as much research as you can. Even a seemingly minor operation can lead to serious medical complications. Rushing into a decision could be one of the biggest mistakes you'll ever make.

What are the risks of medical tourism to Asia and Europe?

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