Travel Trend: Medical Tourism
Healthcare costs in the US have been driving patients interested in elective procedures to other countries for years. But the last decade has seen an explosion in health facilities to support international patients. Low labor costs and quality medical schools are transforming many parts of the world into medical tourism hotspots.
According to the nonprofit Medical Tourism Association (MTA), you can save between 20% and 80% of the cost you would pay in the US on medical procedures abroad. But savings are only a part of the equation: Why recover on the couch if you can do it on an exotic beach or resort?
Today more than 400 healthcare organizations in 39 countries are accredited by the International Division of the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that also accredits US healthcare facilities. Countries like India have a highly evolved education system that produces thousands of qualified doctors and nurses. In addition, many top US programs have aligned with international clinics.
The most common procedures performed abroad are cosmetic, dental, bariatric (obesity) and orthopedic surgeries because they are considered elective and are often not covered by insurance in the US. However, several insurance companies have implemented medical tourism pilot programs, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and WellPoint.