High Costs Drive Patients to Medical Tourism

Rising Costs a Major Problem in Health Care

Time was when affluent Asians traveled to Western countries, like the United States, in search of the best care. Rising medical costs, a major problem in health care in the US, have, however signaled the beginning of a reverse trend towards Asian medical tourism. More and more patients are traveling to distant countries like Thailand and India to seek affordable healthcare. The trend is visible across all economic sections, as not only the affluent, but also the middle class, look up physician directories to find a doctor in Thailand, Malaysia, or India.

Medical Tourism in Asia

A couple of years ago, Howard Staab, a self-employed carpenter, traveled to India for heart-valve surgery. Because rising costs were becoming such a major problem in health care in the US, the procedure would have set him back by a staggering $200,000 in his own country. The total bill in India amounted to a paltry $6,700. Indian hospitals treated about 150,000 overseas patients, like Staab, in 2005. The costs of treatments are about 70 to 80 percent lower when compared to many Western countries.

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The Medical Tourism Experience

Rising costs, long wait times, and access becoming such major problems in healthcare an increasing number of uninsured Americans opt for medical tourism in numerous developing countries. Looking up a physician directory to find a doctor is the first, and probably the easiest, step towards the medical tourism experience. It is followed by a long overseas trip to a new country and the resulting culture shock. But once tourists overcome the initial hiccups, most of them end up highly satisfied with the entire experience. An increasing number of companies are also combing physician directories as part of the health insurance packages offered to their employees. If you can’t find an affordable doctor in your own country, why not search for one abroad? Affordability, quality, and hospitality are becoming key attractions for medical tourism, and this can only be beneficial to those who wish to avail of these medical packages.

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