I recently met a woman who mentioned her husband was currently in Thailand for a knee replacement. She explained he decided to go there instead of seeking treatment here in the U.S. because, “It costs less and they have treatments for faster recovery that we just don’t have here at home.”
Medical tourism—traveling for medical treatment—is a rapidly growing phenomenon. Here are the top three reasons for its dramatic increase and what you should consider when deciding if medical tourism is right for you:
- Lower costs. That knee replacement mentioned above costs two-thirds less in Thailand than in the U.S. Clearly, cost savings can be substantial, even with travel expenses tallied. However, 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.
- Access to unavailable treatments. If a desired treatment is not accessible at home, patients must seek it elsewhere. For example, some effective therapies for cancer are readily available in Mexico and Europe but are still waiting approval in the U.S. 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.
- Immediate treatment. Sure, you’d be on a plane for upwards of 10 hours and away from home for days to weeks, but that knee replacement, stroke rehab program, multiple sclerosis treatment, or stem cell procedure, can be done immediately, rather than months down the road. This is particularly appealing for people in countries with public healthcare systems and long waits, and Americans can wait years for a therapy to gain FDA approval. Nonetheless, choose your destination wisely by researching facility track records and experiences from other patients. A good resource is Josef Woodman’s book, Patients Beyond Borders and PatientsBeyondBorders.com.
The Whitaker Wellness Institute’s Back to Health Program has been a popular destination for medical tourism for nearly 35 years—well before the concept became the phenomenon it is today.
The good news is that we’re located right here in the United States, in sunny Newport Beach, California. People travel nationwide and globally to our clinic because we have more noninvasive alternatives in one place than any other clinic in the Northern hemisphere. Learn more at www.whitakerwellness.com/the-clinic/medical-tourism/ or call 1-800-488-1500.
Now it’s your turn: Have you traveled abroad for medical care?