A Growing Number of American Patients are Seeking Medical Treatment Abroad
The medical tourism industry has seen a major increase in the past decade.
Researchers have confirmed that:
- In 2006, about 150,000 American citizens traveled to Latin America and Asia for medical treatment.
- In 2007, the figure increased to approximately 300,000.
- By 2010, experts say that the number could increase to well over 1 million.
American patients are opting to undergo medical treatment abroad for procedures such as: face lifts, heart bypasses and fertility treatments. For many people who require medical treatment, the last thing they want to do is travel. However, due to the high cost of medical treatment in the USA, many American patients are going abroad for medical treatments. Their purpose is to save 50% to 80% on medical treatment
conducted by doctors who are often trained in the United States, at hospitals that maintain the precise standards of patient care and safety.
USA Medical Tourism - Popular Destinations
Many American patients visit South or Central American countries like Brazil, Argentina or Costa Rica for cosmetic treatment, as they can travel cost effectively and can avail themselves of advanced cosmetic surgery. Mexico is a popular destination for American patients who need primary and dental care. "Dental Tourism" developed rapidly as Americans traveled to Central American countries such as Costa Rica for dental treatment not covered by their insurance. It is estimated that about 40% of today's medical tourism from the USA is for dental work. Costa Rica is a popular place for American medical tourists to travel to in order to receive quality dental care at about half the price.
According to a study completed in November 2007, by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)
, most American patients obtain medical treatment in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Currently, countries like India and Thailand provide state-of-the-art amenities for critical treatments like hip or knee replacements and cardiac surgery. Some other popular destinations are Singapore, Belgium and South Africa. Many people from Northern and Western Europe visit Central and Eastern Europe for low-priced medical and dental care.
Reasons Why American Patients are Traveling Abroad for Medical Treatments
Patients from the US are provided with brand new facilities and equipment due to fierce competition among hospitals and global medical tourism centers. Though price is an important factor, there are other benefits of medical tourism.
Here are a few reasons why medical tourism is rapidly gaining popularity in the USA:
Low costs of Medical Treatment Abroad
For most people, the lower price is the main advantage of medical tourism. USA health care costs are often higher than the combined fee of traveling and receiving medical care abroad.
- A total face and neck lift procedure can cost about $12,000 in the U.S.A, while a similar procedure will costs around $3,000-4,000 overseas.
- The price of hip replacement surgery varies from $40,000 to $65,000 in the USA, whereas a similar procedure abroad costs about $8,000 to $18,000, including traveling expenses.
- India provides reasonable prices and high quality medical services to patients from the US. The prices in India usually vary from 0.25 to one 0.1 of the price of a similar medical procedure in the USA.
- Thailand - India's major competitor - is about 20% more expensive
- Receiving medical treatment in South America can cost between 50-100% more than it would in India.
High quality healthcare abroad
By doing the proper research, or consulting with a good agent, you ensure that you will receive high quality medical services with the best doctors in your destination country.
Medical treatment centers in many of these countries offer state-of-the-art facilities. This includes new or renovated private hospitals that use cutting edge technology and equipment. The doctors in these facilities are trained to American and European standards, providing service that is equal or greater to what hospitals in USA offer.
Benefit of Medical tourism for minor procedures
Patients who are undergoing minor surgery or procedures, can enjoy their recovery by staying in a relaxing vacation environment in beautiful surroundings. Patients accompanied by a family member or friend can enjoy some quality time, relaxing on the beach or going shopping. This can relieve much of the stress that builds up after a surgery. For patients receiving minor treatments, the benefits are even greater.
Lack of InsuranceThe Miami Herald, November 2, 2008
revealed that while the USA continues to debate over their medical insurance system, 61 million people are either uninsured or under-insured. They are rejecting the American health system because it fails to meet their needs and instead they seek medical treatment abroad.
According to David E. Williams, principal and co-founder of MedPharma partners, and author of Health Business Blog.com, the most popular medical treatments received abroad are Cosmetic and Dental surgeries as these treatments are usually not covered at all by insurance.
Receiving treatment anonymously
American patients who are traveling abroad for medical treatment can receive their treatments in privacy and recover in comfort, without questions and judgment from people who know them.
Researching medical tourism for USA patients
Josef Woodman, the author of "Patients Beyond Borders" confirmed that for a good experience, it is essential to research available doctors, enquire about success rates, and learn about the facilities beforehand.
There are also many quality resources available on the internet to research about medical tourism for USA citizens. The book "Patients Beyond Borders," written by Josef Woodman
, is a good source of information about the medical travel industry. Try to interact with representatives of hospitals abroad and with patients who have already traveled abroad for treatment.
Search for institutions authorized by the Joint Commission International
. It is an affiliate of the group that certifies US hospitals. Also some foreign hospitals have associations with renowned US facilities, like Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic. Learn everything you possibly can about the hospitals and doctors before traveling abroad for medical treatment.
Medical tourism for USA citizens is a safe and affordable alternative when the necessary research and precautions are taken prior to the journey.