A Growing Number of American Patients are Seeking Medical Treatment Abroad
The medical tourism
industry has seen a major increase in the past decade.
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.
The CDC estimates
that 750,000 US residents travel abroad for health care each year.
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
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
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.
2009 Survey of Health Care Consumers uncovered other interesting points on
medical tourism. Of those surveyed:
8% Sought health care
beyond their local area
40% Would travel if it
meant saving at least half of the cost
addition, some states have introduced legislation to accommodate medical
Reasons Why American Patients are Traveling Abroad for Medical Treatments
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
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
- 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
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
Lack of Insurance
RAND’s Health Reform
Opinion Study, which studied the rate of uninsured people in America,
discovered that 15.8% are still uninsured and many more may beunder-insured. Reason Magazine’s Jim Epstein has estimated that more and more Americans will seek
medical care abroad in order to find “fast, affordable, and effective
treatments” in the face of Obamacare.
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
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.