The rise of politically controlled medicine has many smart Americans looking for better care going forward.
So it is no accident that medical tourism has become a thriving business with numerous organizations, companies, web sites, and magazines involved. Even if you have no intention of using this information, sooner or later someone you care about probably will. Learn about this now before the public catches on.
Medical tourism means travelling to another country to receive medical, dental or surgical care because of the affordability, better access to care, or a higher level of care. The most common reasons for medical travel are cosmetic and obesity surgery, fertility treatment, dentistry, other non-insured procedures and alternative therapies such as stem cell treatment not available in the U.S.
Josef Woodman is CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, a company that produces guide books for medical tourism. He estimates that in 2012, more than 600,000 Americans will travel abroad for treatment, with 80% being Baby Boomers.
Getting Medical Work Done Abroad:
A Real Alternative to Obamacare
Patients Beyond Borders lists the top ten destinations for medical tourism (in alphabetical order) as Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. These destinations offer modern healthcare infrastructure, international accreditation, transparency of outcomes, healthcare innovation and achievement, experienced medical staff and cutting edge medical technology, to name just a few of the criteria. Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico also have the advantage of being easy to reach from the U.S.
Border towns in Mexico have lured Americans to cheaper dental care, as well as surgical procedures from gastric bypass to chronic back pain, for less than half of what they would pay at home. Health Travel Technologies processes more than 600 inquiries a month and sends more than 100 dental patients abroad each month. Dental services presently account for 40% of medical tourism.
In Mexicali, Mexico alone, over 150,000 patients cross the border each year for treatments. If you are travelling to Mexico, pay very close attention to your personal safety and security; thoroughly research the area you hope to visit before making any firm travel plans.
Vacation While Receiving Cheaper Medical Services…
Here are a few examples from 2011:
A coronary bypass graft costs $88,000 in the U.S. and $9,500 in India.
A hip replacement averages $33,000 in the U.S. and $12,500 in Mexico.
A heart bypass costs $144,000 in the U.S. and $14,082 in Colombia.
A knee replacement is $50,000 in the U.S. and $6,500 in Colombia.
Breast implants $10,000 in the U.S. and $2,500 in Colombia.
A facelift is $15,000 in the U.S. and $5,000 in Colombia.
In Colombia and other foreign countries, many people opt for surgery packages which include transportation, accommodations, and the surgery itself. One in five patients choose the services of a medical tourism facilitator who will arrange your trip, surgery and in some cases any required after care when you return home.
Internationally Trained Staff and Facilities Are Waiting…
In 2012, World Health Organization’s World Health Report showed Colombia as a world leader in health care surpassing developed countries like the U.S., Switzerland, Canada, and Germany.
Over 30% of medical graduates in the U.S. are international students, many returning home after training. Numerous websites provide listings of doctors in foreign countries that speak English and/or provide translation services.
In 1999, the U.S. launched the Joint Commission International (JCI) to set rigorous standards that international hospitals must meet for accreditation. There are currently over 400 accredited facilities and the number is growing by 20% per year. Currently, five JCI accredited organizations were named on the list of the 25 most beautiful hospitals in the world (listed #21 was Hospital Punta Pacifica – Panama City, Panama affiliated with John Hopkins Medicine International). Many hospitals also have International Patient Services Certification.
If you chose a plastic surgeon who is an American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery member, this doctor is exceptionally trained with outstanding credentials and knowledge of innovative cosmetic procedures.
In the Cayman Islands, local and international investors have committed $2 billion in a 2,000 bed hospital targeting U.S. medical tourists. Pro-med from Costa Rica reported patients and families stay longer and spend six times as much as the average tourist. On average medical tourists pay $7,000 per stay of 15 days with total annual revenue from medical tourism of $300 million.
In Ecuador, the results and records of medical treatments belong to the patient and are delivered to you. A hospital stay in Santa Ana Hospital in Cuenca offers a private room with an extra bed for family members for $50 per day and a private suite for $75, including meals.
Dr G. Richard Olds, dean of the medical school at the University of California stated, “We’ll have a 5,000 physician shortage in 10 years no matter what anyone does.” A growing shortage of doctors, longer hospital waits, and the possibility of insurance companies extending coverage for Americans international medical bills is making medical tourism more popular every year. With more countries depending on medical tourism they are making sure their patients receive the best treatments possible.
The 2012 Milliman Medical Index estimates the annual medical care for a typical American family of four to be $20,728. The Commonwealth Fund reported over 25 million Americans are underinsured. Maybe you’re one of the underinsured adults who doesn’t want to refinance your home or deplete your savings to pay for surgery.
Before Venturing Abroad for Medical Treatment…
Remember first to… research, research, research…
Find out all costs involved with the medical procedure in the U.S. so you can compare.
When will you be able to have the procedure done at home compared to away?
Search for the best countries to have your procedure done overseas.
Check on the qualifications of the doctors, hospital (JCI accredited) and medical staff.
Do they speak English?
Do you want or need to use the services of a medical tourism facilitator and what services do they provide?
What will be the costs for travel, for yourself and a companion – air, hotel, and meals?
Medical costs – doctors, hospital, medications, ask for a list of all costs involved.
Length of time you’ll need to be in that country for treatment and recovery.
Will you need after care when you return home and what will that cost?
Next time you’re going on vacation consider what dental work you may need done or that nip and tuck you’ve been considering. The money you save could easily pay for your trip.