With medical procedures costing an arm and a leg in the United States, many people have turned to medical tourism as a way to get surgeries and procedures they need for practically 1/3 of the cost. Medical tourism occurs when an individual travels to another country to get a procedure, whether it is medical, dental, or cosmetic.
Medical tourism can appeal to people for a variety of reasons. Despite the benefits of medical tourism, there are dangers associated with it. What is the impact of medical tourism on the US healthcare system?
While many countries offer safe and quality procedures, others might have poor quality facilities or poorly trained doctors. There are many stories in the news about people who travel to other countries for a surgery that leads to their death. For those that have complications after returning to the US, it becomes the responsibility of their doctors here. Since the procedure was completed in another country, the specifics and the information might not fully translate, leaving a medical gap.
People turn to medical tourism for a variety of reasons. The lower cost appeals to people who don’t have insurance or who have insurance that doesn’t cover certain procedures. The lack of cost transparency in the US healthcare industry may be detrimental when it comes to competition on a global scale. When other countries offer the same scale quality procedures at a lower cost, more people are likely to engage in medical tourism.
Opportunity for Additional Revenue
Like all these other countries, the US healthcare industry has an opportunity to diversify their revenue with medical tourism. While procedures in the US will not appeal to those looking for cheaper options, the US does have high-tech medical equipment that may not be available in other countries. Being a player in the medical tourism sector means that healthcare facilities have to be ready to deal with foreign documents, translations, transportation, and more.
Embracing Medical Tourism
Medical tourism has benefits and consequences that impact the US healthcare industry. While it can offer a different stream of revenue for facilities, the US needs to make changes in order to truly compete on a global scale. To make it safer for US citizens who want to engage in medical tourism, hospitals can have a medical facilitator that can help patients find the best facilities in other countries rather than having them research by themselves. The US healthcare industry can also increase cost transparency to help patients find the best care for themselves.