Medical Tourism, Americans’ Answer for Affordable Health Care
Larger numbers of Americans are embarking upon medical tourism packages in search of affordable health care. These numbers include those who otherwise have never left the United States. Health travel is increasingly becoming the solution for Americans who lack adequate health insurance coverage. And why shouldn’t it be? The costs of health travel to overseas countries including lodging, round-trip airfare, and meals, is far less than the cost of the same procedures performed at U.S. hospitals. This isn’t just for cheapskates trying to pinch pennies; medical tourism saves patients thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, making it truly affordable health care.
Road to Affordable Health Care Unpaved at Times
There are, however, some drawbacks to medical tourism. The low cost of health travel does not alleviate the stress of visiting an unfamiliar country: navigating a new city, avoiding the wrong parts of town, and of course, finding a bathroom. Additionally, when considering the need for comforting words before your surgery, loneliness settles in as neither you, nor the cab driver who drops you at the hospital understand each other. Even more dangerous are pseudo-doctors who prey on unassuming medical tourists for practice, money, or both. Weak, confusing, or unenforceable malpractice laws also complicate matters. Fortunately, help is available.
Positive Outlook for American Health Travel
Amidst the obvious health risks of undergoing health travel to an unfamiliar place remains the awkwardness of locating a credible hospital with well-trained personnel and state-of-the-art facilities. This can easily become a cumbersome process, compounded by language barriers. Fortunately, U.S. companies are acting as middlemen, arranging medical tourism visits and conducting screenings of doctors and facilities. These companies are making health travel more feasible and much more comfortable for American patients. Plus, with the acknowledgement that medical tourism is more affordable than in the U.S., large corporations are exploring such health care options as covering the discounted procedures and travel costs for the patient and spouse or caregiver.
Source: “Americans Are Traveling Overseas for Inexpensive, Quality Care,” The Miami Herald, January 15