During years of IVF treatments, I discovered that Israel is a mecca for infertile couples. Fertility is state-of-the-art in Israel, with many world-class experts in the field to choose from. The Israeli government heavily subsidizes fertility research and treatments for women under 44, making it a popular option in a country where having babies is often a political issue.

Between 2009 and 2010, 4.1% of all live births were a result of fertility treatments. While Israeli citizens pay almost nothing for these expensive treatments, even self-pay medical tourists pay a fraction of the fees commanded by US clinics. According to IsraMedix, infertility treatment in the US can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while in Israel most cycles run approximately $ 3,500. More statistics on IVF in Israel this article from the Jerusalem Post.

But medical tourism isn’t limited to IVF. Most doctors began their profession in the military and as a result of Israel’s many wars, they tend to have extensive expertise in trauma and related fields of surgery such as orthopedics and neurology.

Surgeons gain extensive experience in complex procedures.  Many start ups develop innovative medical devices and procedures which are widely available to Israeli patients who benefit from universal coverage. The government further encourages advances in medical treatments and devices by offering incentives to enterprising researchers via the Chief Scientist’s Office and a range of biotech incubators.

While researching options for treatment of a benign lumbar tumor, I came to the unfortunate (for Americans) conclusion that most people will be much better off having back surgery in Israel than in the US. Aside from surgeon expertise, there are medical devices widely used in Israel, Germany and the UK, that aren’t available in the US because they have yet to receive FDA approval. I plan a second blog post about the incomprehensible differences in treatment and outcome, and why I would NEVER have back surgery in the US, given the option.

Israel is not the least expensive option for medical tourism. But the high level of professionalism and the ability to receive treatment from leading global experts makes it worth considering.