Assess the value of medical tourism

April 1, 2008

In a consumer-driven healthcare marketplace where Americans are taking a closer look at healthcare options and are comparing quality, price, and access between the United States and overseas, many are finding it pays to take that trip abroad.

Nearly 150,000 Americans, some of whom have health insurance, are traveling overseas to receive healthcare. Why? In a consumer-driven healthcare marketplace where Americans are taking a closer look at healthcare options and are comparing quality, price, and access between the United States and overseas, many are finding it pays to take that trip abroad.

This new migration practice, commonly known as medical tourism, is gaining momentum as U.S. consumers are taking note of its advantages. Elsewhere the practice is commonplace; international healthcare consumers have been coming to the United States seeking the best of America's healthcare system while consumers in Canada and the United Kingdom, among other countries, continue to travel abroad where access is often better and waiting lines smaller.

Industry association

The Medical Tourism Association (MTA), an international, non-profit association of leading international hospitals, insurance companies, healthcare companies, medical tourism companies, and other affiliated companies and industries, is helping to create standards and promote the highest level of quality of care to patients on an international basis.

U.S trained providers

Medical tourism companies, whose business is to help U.S. consumers thrive in this environment, are facilitating these services by informing U.S. consumers that most medical staff, including surgeons at some of the major international hospitals, like Bumrungrad International in Thailand or the Apollo Hospital Group from India, are educated or trained in the United States.

Safeguard for physicians

Rather than face the high cost of medical malpractice in the United States, many foreign-born medical practitioners are choosing to return to their home countries to practice medicine and to help their country's healthcare infrastructure and bring it up to par with international standards for the domestic and international customer base.

Lingering questions

With medical tourism as a popular healthcare option, more consumers are asking questions related to what happens after care or what happens when problems arise. Because Americans who choose to work with a medical tourism company will leave U.S soil for their procedures, it is important they understand the concept in depth and know how these systems work. For health plans, consumers, providers or those in the healthcare industry seeking information about medical tourism, ask yourself the following: