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. 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 readily available in the U.S.
The 2012 Milliman Medical Index estimates the annual medical costs 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.
The Coming Obamacare-Induced Physician Shortage
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.
In 1999, the U.S. launched the Joint Commission International (JCI) to set rigorous standards that international hospitals must meet for accreditation. Currently over 400 accredited facilities are in operation, and the number is growing by 20% per year. 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.
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 contemplating. The money you save could easily pay for your trip.