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Is Medical Tourism Right for You? Four Reasons It Might Be

If there is one fact that ordinary Americans, policy experts, and politicians on both sides of the aisle can agree on, it’s the abysmal state of the nation’s healthcare insurance industry. When it comes to paying for medical treatment, the available resources are inadequate, overpriced, endemically elitist, and hopelessly mired in layer after layer of impenetrable bureaucracy.

Medical Tourism

With “healthcare reform” a battle cry for some and a bugbear for others, many U.S. citizens are traveling abroad to get their medical care. Whether it’s elective cosmetic surgery such as a Rhinoplasty in Washington, D.C., or breast augmentation surgery, life-saving treatment for cancer or cardiovascular complaints, or advanced approaches for autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, patients are increasingly exploring foreign options.

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What are some of the reasons for medical tourism? Let’s take a closer look.

Substantial Cost Savings

There’s no denying that the United States has some of the world’s best doctors and most state-of-the-art facilities, but the care they provide can be prohibitively expensive. That’s often true even for people who have health insurance. In fact, over 66% of Americans who file bankruptcy do so as the result of incurring insurmountable medical bills.

Medical tourism offers incredible cost savings to patients, no matter what type of treatment they are seeking. Of course, the discount depends on what the procedure or treatment is, the destination country, whether or not the patient travels exclusively for the medical care or incorporates it into a vacation, and many other factors.

Swanky, Spa-Like Settings

It’s not just financial reasons that medical tourism has become so popular, however. Many patients elect to go abroad for surgery or therapy that takes place in a luxurious, spa-like setting rather than a cold, sterile hospital room.

Such destinations often emphasize holistic wellness, offering auxiliary experiences such as massage, hydrotherapy, detox programs, yoga or fitness classes, Ayurvedic treatment, and the like. In many cases, patients receive individualized, one-on-one care from a private nurse.

And who wouldn’t want to recover from a facelift or triple bypass surgery in a five-star resort environment with breathtaking views of the Alps, gourmet cuisine, and an infinity pool?

Wider Availability of Elective Surgery Options

Still other patients seek treatment abroad because they feel the American medical establishment is too restrictive, or they can’t get the procedures or treatment that they desire.

For example, it’s much easier to find a surgeon to perform gender confirmation surgery when the search is expanded outside the States. An obese patient might not be approved for gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery by an American doctor unless and until they lose significant weight on their own; they can sidestep that requirement by traveling elsewhere.

Some foreign facilities offer cutting-edge services or procedures that are not yet even available, or that are not affordable, here at home.

The Opportunity to See the World

There are plenty of middle-class Americans for whom a trip to South America, Europe, or Asia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So why not tack on a hair transplant, liposuction session, or Lyme disease treatment?

Indeed, it makes a lot of sense to schedule a minor operation or other type of medical care either before or after a pleasure trip. After all, if the patient has already paid for transportation and arranged for time off from work, the expense of the treatment and a few extra days’ stay might not be that much more money to shell out.

Is Medical Tourism Right for You?

We’ve looked at the reasons why medical tourism has become so popular in recent years, but there are drawbacks to it, as well. It’s essential that you thoroughly vet the hospital or clinic, and its medical staff, where you will be having your treatment. Understand what type of aftercare is necessary, and make certain that your primary care doctor clears you to travel. You may need to plan how to overcome a language barrier. And don’t get so enthusiastic about the vacation part of your trip that you neglect to full research the medical aspect.

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