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act, the Patients in both had comparable lengths of stay and death rates.

This report was controversial as many believed that treatment in different hospitals cannot be compared. Hospitals aren't all created equal, nor are surgeons -- or patients. A patient may do better or not so well, depending not only on the surgeon's skill, but the patient's underlying physical condition before the surgery, and many other factors. There is, and should be, a lot of leeway for doctors and hospitals to make decisions based on personal needs of individual patients.

For too long, hospitals, insurance companies, doctors and others made the self-serving argument that such information was too complicated for the average person to understand. They're wrong. People need information to make smart choices about medical care. They need to know that paying more doesn't ensure better results. And undergoing more procedures and tests doesn't necessarily translate into better care. The rising cost of medical care in the US has resulted in patient seeking treatment in other countries where the costs are much cheaper. America's medical tourists save thousands of dollars by heading overseas for their health care.

Medical tourism is alive and well, experts say, with health care consumers scanning the globe for the best deals in everything from back surgery to angioplasty.

Cost is the primary motive for many Americans who travel abroad for care, usually because they lack health insurance coverage for their chosen procedure.

AN estimated 150,000 Americans travel abroad for medical care. Most go for cosmetic surgery or dental work. About 70,000 people travel each year for everything from orthopedic work to major heart surgery.

One measure of the trend is the growing number of overseas hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International, a branch of the organization that accredits U.S. hospitals. International medical ce
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