As the cost of healthcare in the United States of America rises, more people are seeking healthcare elsewhere.
As the cost of healthcare in the United States of America rises, more people are seeking healthcare elsewhere. Several factors continue to affect the upswing in the price of healthcare in America, where purportedly the best in the world is offered. The more costs rise, the more motivated medical consumers become to seek care offshore, or in countries not hampered by the constraints of our ailing healthcare system.
It has been estimated that as much as eighty percent of the price tag currently fixed to treatment or surgical procedures in the United States actually stems from the artificial cost of medical malpractice activity, inflated prescription drug prices, and current health insurance compliance. The expense assumed by doctors to maintain medical malpractice coverage continues to climb as awards to patients and lawyers skyrocket. Medical billing has become an industry in itself, as more and more staff is required to comply with health insurance requirements so that doctors and facilities can get paid. The amount of paperwork and human effort required to process and receive payment for everything from simple office visits to complicated surgical procedures is excessive at best and continuing to grow. Prescription drug prices move steadily upward as does the number of patients who depend on them.
Foreign countries, whose medical healthcare condition is not as pathologically advanced as in the United States, can offer care at a price that more accurately reflects its true cost. The citizens of these countries are not as prone to suing as the American public and medical insurance companies are either unavailable to the average citizen there or haven’t had the opportunity to expand and progress to the degree they have here in the United States.
In the absence of most factors that drive up the price of American healthcare, a truer cost for services rendered emerges in these foreign markets that is extremely attractive to Americans, Canadians and parts of the European population. These consumers are increasingly drawn to foreign soil where doctors, most of them trained in western medical schools, perform procedures comparable in quality to those available in the United States at a fraction of the cost. Some patients even book their procedures as an addendum to their vacation plans, wrapping up their holidays with a surgical procedure followed by a brief hospital stay and then a trip home to finish recuperating.
Medical tourism, the practice of visiting another country for the purpose of receiving less expensive medical care, is taking place all over the world. For example, the practice of going to Mexico to get less expensive medical and dental care is nothing new to U.S. citizens. What is new, however, is the availability of comparable, high quality care so close to the border. This same phenomenon of high-caliber care at reduced prices is increasingly available in countless countries around the world, from Israel to Thailand, and the South Korea to South America, and covers a wide variety of procedures including surgery, cancer treatment, vision care and cardiac procedures, to name a few.
The availability of healthcare accessed through medical tourism will only continue to expand as more and more disillusioned patients and physicians discover quality options out of country that satisfy their requirements and needs. Time alone will tell what role this new outsourcing trend may play in the state of healthcare within the United States and elsewhere.