Dental Tourism, Miles of Smiles

Rising Costs a Major Problem in Health Care

In an ironical incident reinforcing the fact that rising costs are a major problem in health care, a health educator with the Federal Government, Ms. Carothers from Washington DC, recently visited Vienna on a dental tourism trip. There she had some dental work done at a quarter of the cost she would have incurred in her home town, through her regular insurance plan. Despite her Federal position and involvement in the medical community, she opted for affordable health care abroad.

In Search of Affordable Health Care

Dental tourism and medical tourism have been practiced quite commonly among Austrians, Germans, and other East Europeans for more than a decade, but more recently, their Western neighbors have begun opting for cheaper procedures in far off destinations. Medical treatment at home grows costlier by the day, and thus, patients from these developed countries, are visiting countries in the developing world for affordable health care, life-saving medical procedures, and cosmetic surgery. Countries in Eastern Europe and South America are now seeing an influx of medical tourists from America, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere.

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Dental Tourism in Eastern Europe

Many of these “affordable” countries specialize in their own particular brand of medical tourism. Mosonmagyarovar in Hungary, for example, with nearly 150 dentists for roughly 33,000 residents promotes dental tourism. Why is dentistry so affordable here? One reason is labor cost. Manpower (or rather dentist power) is much less expensive than it is in other parts of the world. However, these days fewer Western Europeans are traveling to Hungary, and thus dentists in the region have begun setting their sights on the States, where rising health care costs are truly becoming problematic. To lure patients from America, many dental clinics offer pick-ups from the airport, luxury accommodations, spa services, and other dental tourism perks.

Medical Tourism is Here to Stay

As with everything else, however, medical tourism has its shortcomings, and dental tourists are advised to take certain precautions. Language barriers can be problematic. Not all facilities accept credit cards. And follow-up treatments take some planning. But in the end, most would gladly sacrifice a few conveniences if it meant receiving high quality, affordable health care.

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