Join the hundreds of thousands of people (in the US alone) who are doing just -- as they combine vacation time and medical treatment to save big on skyrocketing medical care costs in their own country.
Once considered solely a local service offering little choice in the type of care received, the health care industry has gone global -- as patients travel overseas to choose the type of care they want at prices they can afford.
Senior travelers -- who are more likely free to travel and most in need of medical treatments -- are especially attracted to the cost savings of up to 85% compared to prices for the same treatment at American hospitals. And, that's with figuring in the airfare costs.
The good news is that hospitals abroad having increasingly grown on a par (or offering even better) in the care they offer. Places like Cuba, Mexico and Costa Rica in particular have lured US patients south by offering not only sterling reputations for affordable medical treatments, but sunny retreats in which to recover from a surgery or other major treatment.
Of course, local care is still available for minor ailments or sudden emergencies. It's only when the mind-boggling prices of operations or major surgery is taken into account that the cost effectiveness of travel and medical treatment really makes it worthwhile.
Price comparisons by country for medical procedures compared to the US
And it's not just in the United States where medical tourism is really taking off. Patients in Europe and the Middle East are increasingly traveling to India, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe where medical treatment costs less than half of what they might be in London or Paris.
Medical tourism - the pros and cons
As globalization of health care
grows, local hospitals may have
to lower prices to compete.
Still a relatively new concept, medical tourism is viewed by defenders of Western industrialized medicine as a poor alternative to traditional treatment -- usually expressed in the old adage, "you get what you pay for."
Other critics claim that overseas medical care is aimed mainly at the well-healed, and point to the prevalence of plastic surgery operations or fertility treatments which are cast as not wholly necessary, but still accessible to those who can afford it.
While the first argument may be a valid one in some cases, most medical consumers are already wise to the fact that, as with any medical service, it pays to shop around. And while it is easier for the rich to hop on a plane to receive medical treatment, studies show that the majority of those who opt for overseas medical care are the middle class who are increasingly in need of affordable healthcare.
Medical tourism is in the process of changing the medical landscape forever. And for the better, say proponents.
Even patients who opt out of overseas care might benefit from medical tourism's growing popularity by default -- as local hospitals are forced to drop their prices to compete on a global scale. Meanwhile, to protect their bottom line, some US health insurance companies are already offering plans that cover medical treatment abroad.
Although a powerful health care lobby in the US and other countries may try to stop it, the globalization of medical care seems all but inevitable as demand for affordable surgeries and alternative treatments continues to grow.
More about medical tourism around the Web:
Around the Web, discover more facts and information on on the topic with important consumer guides featuring top doctors and hospital ratings, typical costs, related ethical issues, along with the major savings on treatment that medical tourism affords ....
Medical tourism - Wikipedia - Extensive look at the topic including a guide to medical tourism country-by-country offering facts and details on their medical reputations and accreditations, with related references and resources.
Medical Tourism Statistics & Facts - Patients Without Borders overview of the top ten destinations for medical tourism as well as emerging markets, with typical patient costs and savings.