Medical tourism is a rising trend that involves traveling to foreign countries for medical care. But why would someone travel up to 16 hours by plane for surgery that they could get down the street at the local hospital?
1. Less expensive: That’s actually an understatement. Depending on where you go and what procedure you are interested in, you can save 50 to 80% of the cost of the same procedure in the United States. Health insurance is expensive for both companies and their employees and, half the time; it doesn’t cover many medical procedures. Or, worse, requires such a large deductible or co-pay, that the procedure is financially out-of-reach. For cosmetic surgeries, this hardly seems like something to empathize with but what about cardiac patients or infertile couples trying to start a family?
2. Private: Sometimes people wish to keep their medical procedures private. Having surgery while under the guise of vacationing abroad is one way to maintain this privacy. Friends and family may notice that a smile looks brighter or that one has a healthier appearance but it will be hard to pinpoint the change. This is especially true with cosmetic and dental procedures. Sometimes dental implants and veneers can be a two day process; traveling back and forth to work, home and the dental office can raise a lot of well-meaning questions.
3. More Choices: The F. D.A. is a good intentioned organization, looking after the well-being of Americans but, more often than not, they are extremely slow to approve new procedures and medicines. In fact, people in other parts of the world frequently receive new, breakthrough medicine and surgeries before those of us in the United States. And, while it doesn’t always hurt to wait, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s wait for no one.
4. Vacation: Second only to saving money, getting to take the trip of a lifetime to some exotic, foreign locale is a great added benefit of medical tourism. In fact, you could choose a country based on its medical specialty or on the tourist attractions that it has to offer. You could see the Taj Mahal right before your scheduled face lift, ride a zip line through the jungle before checking into a hospital in Costa Rica or relax in a tent while on Safari in South Africa. This, rather humorously, is nicknamed a Scalpel Safari. In fact, your need for medical attention may be as good of an excuse as any to cross a few sites of your bucket list and schedule a dream vacation.
The above four reasons make it a little easier to understand why over 500,000 people travel overseas each year for surgery. They save money and have fun. Shouldn’t you?