Medical tourism, also called medical travel, health tourism or global health care, is the process of traveling to another country to receive quality health care from highly skilled physicians and surgeons at a fraction of the cost available in the United States, Canada, and the U. K.
Some of the best destinations for medical tourism are Malaysia, Thailand, India, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, and Argentina. While medical treatment is the primary purpose for traveling to a foreign country, an additional week or two for recuperation in a vacation paradise is also appealing.
With soaring health care costs, and many being unable to afford health insurance, Americans are traveling in large numbers overseas for surgery. In 2007 over 750,000 Americans traveled overseas for medical treatment, and with the current rate of growth, that number is projected to reach 6 million by 2010.
If the health care reforms being debated in Washington in 2009 aren't implemented, and costs for health care and insurance continue to rise well beyond the rate of inflation, larger numbers of American workers may find themselves being without insurance and being unable to afford surgery except to opt for overseas health care.
For the middle-class uninsured, and for insurers and employers looking at surgery and transplants for as little as 10% of the cost in U.S., even with the added costs of travel and hotels added on, overseas health care is a viable option.
With lower wage costs overseas, and with U.S. hospitals under pressure to reduce costs, these accredited overseas hospitals typically have a higher RN-to-patient ratio than in the U.S.
While many of the large U.S. insurance companies are beginning to look at overseas surgery on a case by case basis, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, is offering attractive options for patients who choose lower-cost overseas hospitals.
Medical tourism, a $20 billion industry in 2008, has become especially popular with Americans, Canadians, and U. K. citizens faced with pricey hospital treatments in their home countries.
Frost & Sullivan, an international business research and consultant, with long experience in Malaysia, reports that medical tourism in Malaysia is estimated to reach $590 million by 2010.
For those unwilling to travel to far away destinations for medical treatment, San Jose, Costa Rica, in Latin America, the self-proclaimed international capital for cosmetic surgery, costs less than half the U.S. and most of their doctors were trained in the U.S. and Europe, and speak English.
In the United Sates, The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, is the body that accredits and certifies hospitals and health care providers. This accreditation is recognized nationwide as the gold standard of quality that certifies that a hospital or health care provider made the commitment to meeting stringent performance standards.
Recognized by the World Health Organization, the International division of Joint Commission, Joint Commission International (JCI), is active in over 80 countries and is considered to be the gold standard to certify international health care institutions to insure that they meet the standards of quality health care.
With accreditation standards comparable to the U.S., patients are ensured of standardized health care practices, regardless of whether a facility is located in the United States, Malaysia, or Costa Rica.
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