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Which surgeries would Aussies go abroad for the most?

A few years back (or at least a decade or two), you could have been forgiven for thinking medical tourism was somehow related to overseas junkets for med students.


These days however, medical tourism is mainstream. In fact, more people would go overseas for a medical procedure – and potentially save themselves thousands of dollars - than you might realise. And new data backs this up.



A survey by money transfer company, WorldFirst, found that three in four Australians would travel abroad to avoid paying much larger bills at home.


Polling 1,000 independent Australian adults, the survey also identified the operations/treatments Aussies would most likely go overseas for if they needed surgery, had done their research and were confident in the medical team they found.


The most common medical procedure we would travel internationally for is dental work, which was chosen by 60% of respondents. With most dental procedures not covered by Medicare, it is little wonder these pricey procedures top the list.


The next most considered overseas operation is cosmetic surgery (31%), where five figure procedures can be cut by half or even a third, followed by cancer therapy (27%) and IVF treatment (18%).


Unsurprisingly, cost was identified as the main reason to have surgery overseas, with 74% of respondents agreeing to this.


Despite the potential savings, WorldFirst Head of Foreign Exchange, Patrick Liddy, said Aussies still needed to consider foreign exchange risks.


“With costs being so important to three quarters of Aussies, they’ll need to take into account foreign exchange fees and the value of our dollar when paying for surgery and associated travel expenses,” he said.


“In recent trends we have seen the AUD move more than 7% within a window as short as six to eight weeks.


“This could add $700 dollars to a $10,000 medical trip – and that’s excluding foreign exchange fees.”


The surgeries Aussies are most likely to undergo overseas rather than at home:

Dental work – 60% 

Cosmetic surgery – 31%

Cancer treatment – 27% 

Fertility treatments such as IVF – 18%

Eye surgery – 17%

Surgery on vital organs e.g. heart and liver – 14%

Gastric bypass/banding surgery – 13%

Organ transplants – 12%


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 20 June 2018

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