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Why millions of Americans travel overseas for surgeries?

September 26, 2011

By our guest writer – Deepika Garg

While the healthcare system in the US is robust, not all Americans can afford to undergo medical treatments in their very own country. The rising cost of medical facilities and services coupled with the ever increasing unemployment rate has put many people in a fix. Those who require medical care but don’t have the finances to pay expensive out-of-the-pocket amounts have to either learn to live with the disease or look for affordable healthcare options overseas.

The American Medical Association has drafted a set of guidelines for US patients traveling overseas for medical care. According to the pre-requisites put forth by the association, insurance coverage for the prospective medical tourists should not only cover the cost of medical care overseas but also the cost of post surgical care upon return. The patients should also be acquainted with the likely hazards of combining medicals treatment with lengthy air-travel and sightseeing activities.

In the wake of the thriving medical tourism industry, several enterprising organizations in the US have now collaborated with reputable hospitals and doctors both in the US and in countries known for their value-for-money treatments, such as India, Mexico, Thailand and Costa Rica, in an effort to promote both inbound and outbound medical tourism.

On the Quest for Affordable Healthcare

In the light of the economic downturn, many Americans have lost their sources of income. A large percentage of the population isn’t able to foot expensive medical bills and often skips annual visits to the doctor. Dental care is another dreaded expense for the residents of the US. Simple tooth fillings and crown fittings can run into thousands of dollars!

Understandably, many Americans travel overseas to get affordable healthcare. The cost of dental crowns, tooth extractions and dental implants in India is much lower than the price quoted in the US. So for those who can’t afford a visit to the dentist, dental care in countries like India and Mexico sounds very promising.

The Rise of Medical Tourism

Although emerging economies still have to come at par with the US, these developing nations have the necessary infrastructure to support a flourishing medical tourism industry. Patients in the US are aware that there are many JCI and ISO accredited hospitals and clinics abroad. These medical centers employ English speaking staff and highly experience medical practitioners. The level of care offered by hospitals in countries such as India and Mexico meets and often supersedes the expectations of the offshore patients.

A large number of people visit India to undergo bariatric surgery, hysterectomy and cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery in India is in high demand since many American medical tourists want to avail affordable surgeries that would give them the looks they have always craved for, but without letting too many people know they went under the knife. Breast augmentation procedures, tummy tucks, face lifts, thigh lifts, and Brazilian butt lift surgery in India have a lot of takers. Those who choose to undergo cosmetic surgery abroad not only pay a smaller price but also get the privacy they deserve.

Yes, the medical tourism industry which was barely talked about before has become an alternative for many Americans. According to the 2008 Deloitte Centre for Health Care Solutions Report, the number of US residents traveling overseas for healthcare could reach a staggering 1.6 million by 2012.

Deepika Garg is our guest post writer and is the Head of Online Medical Marketing at Practice Buzz and working to promote Medical tourism in India.



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