Graphic: Medical tourism by country

October 28, 2009

With U.S. healthcare prices spiraling upward, more and more insurers and individuals are looking abroad for treatment. By some estimates, 650,000 Americans will check into foreign hospitals from Mexico to Thailand this year.


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As the trend grows, their will be great pressure on Hospitals, Clinics and Doctors to reduce their cost.However, if the Insurance companies force Americans to go to other countries then they need to collect reduced premiums for lowering their cost.

Posted by Rupen | Report as abusive

Medical tourism has been around since the days (early 60’s) when the guys and dolls of Hollywood went to Nassau for facelifts, adjusting T’s and sculpturing A’s.Your story teller lacks in telling of nearly 2 million travelers who come for expensive treatment in the US each year, to receive services many American’s cannot afford.Word of mouth has it most travelers are American’s without healthcare insurance looking for the 90% savings. Wrong! Most travelers are insured, with standing health insurance policies. They are often given first class tickets and all expenses paid by the insurer for the traveler to go abroad for advanced procedures. The care is as good if not better! So why not?

Posted by James Evans | Report as abusive

At a time when the US government has failed to fully secure Americas healthcare need, there is nothing wrong in getting world class treatment from other countries like Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica, India, Singapore etc at a fraction of the cost in US.Perhaps, US government should allocate funds in its social security system to provide for such medican tourism by US citizens for their own well being.With Warm ReardsV.KANDASWAMY

Posted by Kandaswamy | Report as abusive

I do think that I would have a procedure done in another country if I could stay there for the first portion of the recovery time. For the prices charged in the United States the service is just not that good. I also do not see the cleanliness and attention to detail required for a proper surgical procedure in the US. This happens whenever profits are put before service. I believe that unless hospitals and doctors put service first they will see their business lost to foriegn doctors. I also suspect we will see clinic set up to monitor patients and diagnosis will be by internet connection.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

[…] problems are a threat to human life. Americans are looking for health care in other countries. From

Posted by Mandatory US Health Insurance – Page 4 | Report as abusive

you bet i would go to a foreign county for surgery if i know it was safe…..

Posted by bonnie pearson | Report as abusive

This can work in the favor of premiums and still offer choice. This will also help to bring down true cost and show international competition in a market that seems to be broken. All the Insurance companies need to do is pay out based on average international negotiated rates. If you want to have the surgery here you pay the difference or they only pay 60% for the cost. People will get lower premiums and more choice and insurance industry will help find the hospitals that comply to American Standards.

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive

If we hired more foreign workers to maintain the hospitals, cleaning everything like a high priced cruise ship, we could fix the problems associated with our Hospitals being the dirtiest buildings in town. To fix our system we need to lower the expectations of our workers and raise the standards or our patients. This would work of the food industry as well.

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive

I can’t see a role for medical tourism beyond cosmetic surgery, or other elective non emergent procedures, or non FDA approved experimental procedures. No one with a heart attack is going to navigate through the streets of Tijuana or what have you to save 1000’s on a heart catheterization. People getting emergent CABG even in this country will start having difficulties finding physicians who have done enough procedures to keep their license up to date-> not to mention what is happening in another country. To me this is a non issue. Those burned by the couple arranging for medical tourism caveat emptor I suppose.

Posted by Adam12 | Report as abusive

In India Medical tourism is in its nascent stage… Indian govt shold take some good measures to promote Medical tourism by recognising the major hospitals in the country for it & I feel these recognised hospitals should give atmost care to foreign patients at subsidised cost..I think this s the right time to make a mark even in Medical Tourism by the Indian Govt..

Posted by Guruprasad | Report as abusive

I went from the USA to Thailand for VIP treatment, hospitality, and medical professionalism at Bumrungrad Hospital after I performed extensive research. A lot of their physicians were educated in top US medical schools and are US Board Certified. I cannot say enough good things about the experience. On the other hand, I have absolutely nothing good to say about the way patients are treated by the supposed health care professionals in the US. (Don’t get me going about the obscene costs in the USA.) Most nurses in the US can barely make it through a standard doorway due to their own obesity, so it strikes me as somewhat scary why anyone should trust those people to take care of you when they cannot manage their own personal health. Oh, and those 45 minute (at least) Waiting Room experiences in the US? At Bumrungrad their standard is to have you in front of the treating Physician within 22 minutes (maximum wait.) Their internal operational environment is so efficient, the Microsoft Corporation purchased their software (‘Innovative Healthcare Technology’). No surprise to me that none of the slick Silicon Valley firms can develop such a similarly efficient system for deployment in the USA. Want to save money, feel about about your health care services received, and throw in a holiday alongside it? Get on a plane.

Posted by Viyada York | Report as abusive

This is supposed to be a bad thing? The US doesn’t even have universal healthcare. I won’t move to the US for any money unless/until they move over to universal healthcare. My experience as a visitor left me unimpressed and apparently this was one of the best hospitals?! Yeah, right…

Posted by Emily | Report as abusive

There are always risks with accessing healthcare, whether at home or abroad, and whether private sector or public sector. It is important to be sure as one can possibly be of the quality of the hospitals, clinics and healthcare staff one is making use of. Outside of your own country, you may well encounter excellent healthcare providers, but if things were to go wrong (and they sometimes will), then it may be difficult to seek redress, for example the doctors may not carry any insurance.If you plan to become a medical tourist, how does one tackle this issue? Establishing if a hospital or clinic has been sucessfully surveyed by a reputable independent external accreditation scheme of international standing, such as JCI from the USA or the Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS) from England, at least goes some way toward filling this gap.So, consider checking if a hospital has international accreditation TAS(UK) or JCI(USA) accreditation, and that they are maintaining it.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

I do not believe in these non-governmental “certification and accreditation”, which are used by hospitals mainly as a marketing tool they “bought”.These accreditations are not able to check and ensure the quality of medical treatment and patient safety.Only periodic and unsheduled inspection by external and independend international medical experts AND governmental accreditation can create a better safety for medical tourists.

Posted by Tho | Report as abusive

Not only is medical tourism on the rise but it will begin to morph into different forms. If Americans can’t make it to India, why not bring India to them in the form of medical/hospital cruise ships operating in international waters just a short helicopter ride from the U.S. coast? Such ships are on the way and will surely look something like this:

Posted by Rod | Report as abusive

I think its a bad thing? The US doesn’t even have universal healthcare..thanks for sharing nice information i would like to share helpful source for medical students its medical schools sacramento…

Posted by Medical Schools Sacramento | Report as abusive

[…] this chart from Reuters, it is clear that more and more Americans are choosing to go abroad for medical treatment.  Like so many others, Reuters believes the main cause of this is sky-rocking healthcare prices. […]

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