Travel Trend: the Growing Popularity of Medical Tourism

Travel Trend, Travel, Medical Tourism,Health care systems are a hot issue in almost all developed countries; often a major issue in deciding elections and dividing political parties. Everyone has differing opinions about what the government should do, when it should back down to private companies, and who should get coverage. It's a muddled issue and no one has a simple answer, but some people are taking matters into their own hands by bypassing their own countries' health care systems altogether. This growing trend in the world, known as medical tourism, has people in countries like Canada, the US, and the UK traveling to less developed nations for medical treatment.

This seems backwards from the normal cases of residents of under-developed countries making journeys to the US and other more advanced countries to receive medical care that their home countries can't provide. Now, however, many nations in South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and even South Africa have medical treatment standards that rival our own. Medical schools and training are becoming more and more available to people all over the world, making advanced medical care and surgery no longer a luxury of the richest nations in the world. Ironically, the citizens of those rich nations are looking outside their own borders for treatment.

The reasons for the popularity of medical tourism are mainly reasons of expense and timing. Medical treatment in the US, for example, is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the world, and many Americans are finding it difficult to pay for medical treatment even with insurance. Wait times for medical procedures are another reason for
patients to fly abroad. In countries like Canada with public health care systems, wait times for non-emergency procedures such as hip replacement can have wait lists months long. By traveling to other nations, patients are finding the same medical treatments at a fraction of the price, and often with no wait time at all.

Medical tourism for cosmetic surgery has become increasingly popular as well. Cosmetic surgery is typically not covered under most insurance plans, making it very expensive for most Americans. Many are traveling to South America for everything from a breast lift to a nose job because they can get the same results for a fraction of the cost--and that's including air fare and travel expenses. In countries like Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil, cosmetic surgery is quite common and the number of proficient doctors has created a booming industry and a prime destination for medical tourism.

Clever people will always find a way to get a better deal. This reversal of roles, making developing nations the best places to go for surgery and medical care, seems incongruous--but it shouldn't be so unexpected. The US has been outsourcing jobs to developing nations for years. Everything from manufacturing to customer service can be handled overseas at less expense. Consumers have now gone one step further by outsourcing medical care. The number of advanced doctors popping up all over the world is eroding the US's image as the ultimate destination for health care, shifting the gaze to developing countries all over the world.

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