If you’re not familiar with the concept of medical tourism, it may seem odd, impractical, and even unsafe to travel thousands of miles for medical treatment. But last year alone, 7 million people, including nearly a million Americans and Canadians, crossed national borders for that very reason.
Medical tourism—traveling for medical treatment—is a rapidly growing phenomenon. Here are two main reasons for its dramatic increase in popularity and what you should consider when deciding if traveling for medical treatment is right for you:
Believe it or not, even when transportation and lodging are figured in, the savings can be considerable. Procedures that require out-of-pocket payment, such as cosmetic surgery, dental work, and fertility treatments, are popular among medical tourists. For example, you could get a facelift in Latin America for about half of what you’d pay here.
One caveat: Make sure that lower costs do not equate to lower quality of care and expertise. There are many top-notch international facilities—and many mediocre and questionable facilities. Look for facilities accredited by organizations such as the Joint Commission International.
…Get the Treatments You Want
Another driver of medical tourism is treatment availability. Sometimes the therapies you desire just don’t exist in your current location. The FDA is notoriously slow and often resistant to approving innovative therapies, and many physicians are reluctant to recommend anything besides the usual drugs and surgery.
Fortunately, medical travel doesn’t always mean crossing international borders. Top medical schools, physicians, and hospitals have also put the United States on the map for medical care. Many effective treatment options are available in this country—albeit in limited areas—which eliminates the need to travel abroad.
A great resource for researching facilities, both abroad and here in the US, is Josef Woodman’s book, Patients Beyond Borders. The website, patientsbeyondborders.com, also allows you to narrow your search by destination and desired procedures.
An Unknowing Pioneer
When I first started hearing about medical tourism, I always associated it with international travel. Then it dawned on me that the Whitaker Wellness Institute’s Back to Health Program has been an exemplary model of medical tourism for nearly 35 years. All this time I’ve been a pioneer in a field I didn’t even know existed! Most of the people who come to the clinic drive or fly in from all over California and the rest of the US, but a significant number also arrive from Canada and other countries.
To help make your stay as stress-free as possible, we handle everything: hotel accommodations, transportation to and from the airport and clinic, all-inclusive meals, medical records, scheduling, follow-up after returning home, and whatever extra assistance is needed.
During the time patients spend with us (usually one to three weeks) they undergo an individualized treatment program, have multiple physician visits to monitor progress, and receive personalized instruction in nutrition and lifestyle changes. As an added bonus, they can enjoy Newport Beach’s beautiful weather, beaches, and many tourist attractions. Click here to read more or call (800) 488-1500 for a complimentary consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable Patient Services Representatives.