Motivated by a variety of factors, people have been increasingly looking abroad for their health care, a phenomenon known as “medical tourism.” Whether it’s for cosmetic surgery or lifesaving procedures, the benefits of foreign health care are irresistible to many. Here are some of the reasons medical tourism has exploded in popularity in recent years.
No matter what you’re buying, you tend get more bang for your buck in less developed countries. This is true for medical procedures, too; you can save up to 90% by opting to have your procedure done in a foreign land. The lower cost of health care abroad is not only attractive to those pursuing elective procedures like cosmetic surgery—it can sometimes be an absolute lifesaver. For someone who needs a procedure in order to survive but can’t afford it stateside, the more affordable health care in other nations is sometimes the only viable option. Of course, the downside to opting for foreign health care is the danger of potentially encountering the substandard medical standards sometimes found in third world nations.
Shorter Wait Times
Sometimes it’s not the cost of a procedure that can be discouraging—it’s the wait time. People may wait months, or even years, for procedures that range from elective to absolutely essential. This can spell disaster for some, who languish on a wait list as their health declines. It’s no wonder they look to other countries to help speed the process along. For others, it’s not so much a matter of life and death, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to wait around for a procedure that they feel will improve their life.
Part of what might deter some from seeking foreign health care is a negative perception of third world medicine. While this can be warranted in some cases, health care standards in less developed nations have been improving in recent years, and can sometimes be just as excellent as the care you’d receive at home. However, you still have to be very careful about doing your research if you’re going to consider going abroad for your health care.
Easier International Travel
Our increasingly globalized world has made international travel faster, cheaper, and more accessible than ever before. Even though it can still be a bit pricey to travel abroad, these costs may be offset by the reduced price of medical procedures in foreign lands. Some people even see it as a tourism opportunity too; they might be able to see the sights before they go under the knife, killing two birds with one airline ticket.
Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to travel abroad for health care. There are solutions to the high cost of domestic medicine, however, including improved medical technology, more efficient medical billing and coding techniques, and government initiatives. Hopefully, one of these days we’ll all be able to get the affordable care we need at home, but until then foreign medicine is a popular alternative.
Madeline Marshall is a freelance writer living in Santa Cruz, CA.