Doctors discussing report

The worldwide cost of operations

PUBLISHED: 27 August 2018 | LAST UPDATED: 12 May 2022

Healthcare varies around the world, from practices, availability and more noticeably, the cost.

If you’re thinking of travelling or moving abroad, it’s worth taking a look at these costs. No operation is cheap, but some of the differences between countries and the cost of operations can be quite surprising.

International health insurance is just one way of protecting you and your loved ones against unexpected costs.

We’ve taken a look at the costs of some more commonly needed medical treatments to show you just how much these costs can vary around the world.


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How much would you expect to pay?

An MRI scan, which helps us to identify any problems with our bones or organs, is the lowest costing procedure listed here. In Burkina Faso, it costs an average of $100, whereas in the United States it can cost as much as $1,150, which is more than double the average worldwide cost.

Prices in the USA look even more extreme when we compare the cost of an intermediate operation, such as a hernia repair or having your appendix removed. In Ethiopia you could expect to pay just $100, but in the United States, it could cost as much as $13,675, which is more than 4 times the worldwide average cost of $3,200.

The most expensive operation listed here is the heart bypass, which is a procedure that improves blood flow to the heart. At its most expensive, this surgery can cost as much as $67,500 in the United States, compared to just $1,110 in Luxembourg – a difference of $66,390.

Surprisingly, the United States didn’t feature as the highest costing country when it came to joint replacements, such as knees and hips. Italy takes the top spot with a cost of up to $49,500, compared to $700 in Laos. Italy’s cost for joint replacements is nearly 5 times higher than the worldwide average cost for these operations.

Operations like the ones listed here are extremely common, for example, in England, 50,000 people are admitted to hospital with appendicitis each year¹.

To help you understand even more about how much your healthcare could cost abroad, why not take a look at our article on the varying costs of healthcare around the world to see how much a visit to the dentist, fixing a broken ankle, a night in hospital or for medical evacuation could cost you..

So make sure that you and your loved ones aren’t given any nasty surprises when it comes to medical bills, and make sure that you have the right cover before you move or travel abroad.  

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.

Currency rates correct as of 21/05/18 ( All dollars are US dollars. Data collected from a variety of sources with the chief being research conducted by AXCO Insurance Information Services Ltd. with a base of 148 countries, and are correct as at the 2018 website content. All figures represent an average cost per country, represented by averaging available country data for each treatment. ¹ Acute Abdomen and Surgical Gastroenterology. Updated June, 2014. Assessed October 2014.