Everything You Need to Know About Medical Tourism

There has been a lot of talk recently in Houston about medical tourism. This industry has grown from a small cottage industry into one of the largest growing sectors of the medical field. Cosmetic surgery patients are one of the largest groups to take advantage of medical tourism opportunities.

In 2007, Americans spent over $13 billion on cosmetic surgery. Not all of that was in the United States. With the globalization of the workforce in the past few decades, this has led to many first and second generation Americans working in the United States. Going to a foreign country for a lot of Americans could mean going home to see relatives. Also, travel costs have dropped so much with global transportation being very affordable. This has left other countries fighting over where Americans will go overseas for their cosmetic surgery. This increased competition has led to the improvement in the hospitals and services in these foreign countries.

What do we know about medical tourism?

  • Not really a market for seniors
  • Centers around one-time elective procedures
  • Typically takes 5-6 days
  • Big winners are patient’s family(who get to travel)
  • Largely uncovered by insurance
  • Forecast 35% annual growth

This 35% growth could have 1.6 million Americans going abroad for medical procedures by 2012. The numbers have held steady for the past few years, but a lot of that can be attributed to the economy. There were 750,000 medical tourists in 2007, 540,000 in 2008 and 648,000 in 2009. I would expect the numbers to keep climbing as we slip out of this recession over the next few years.

What questions do we need to ask? best attraction Sentosa singapore 

  • What is the surgeon’s training?
  • Is the surgeon certified?
  • Does health insurance cover it?
  • What about aftercare?
  • What about complications?
  • Do they speak English fluently?
  • Do they have any references?
  • Are you speaking directly with surgeon? (not agent)

As said earlier, most insurance plans do not cover these elective surgeries to begin with, much less an elective surgery in a foreign country. There are some pilot programs in place that are experimenting with coverage for surgeries done in foreign countries. Medical tourism may get a shot in the arm once this new health plan passes into law.

The most important piece of information I can give you is to really do your research before you make up your mind about medical tourism. There are a few places to start online to help you along in your journey towards educating yourself about the process.

– Joint Commission International – Have certified 200+ facilities in 30 countries.
– Planet Hospital – Respected agency that checks out destinations beforehand
– ISAPS.org – International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
– Patients without Borders – Create books with information about medical tourism
– Medical Tourism Association – Dozens of members all over the world


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