Are e-Patients More Likely to Try Medical Tourism?

It’s an interesting question, because as people become more informed about their conditions and treatment options, they also often learn more about the costs associated with treating their condition. When compared with many other developed nations, America’s healthcare costs are extraordinary. Just today, we got hit with a prescription bill you wouldn’t believe, as we recently changed healthcare providers (and may be changing much sooner than we had anticipated because of this surprise).

The rising cost of healthcare in America has spawned the emergence of a new type of travel. Medical tourism is now a phenomenon that has generated passengers in record numbers, especially those with no health insurance and limited access to insurance. In fact, Patients Beyond Borders reports that more than 150,000 Americans traveled abroad for healthcare last year, and that number is projected to double by 2008.

Health insurance premiums have gone up 87 percent since 2000, resulting in more than 46 million Americans that have no health insurance.

Saving money is one of the main objectives, and Americans love a bargain, even when it’s their own health being bargained. It’s estimated that patients can save anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of the cost of many common medical procedures. Some of the most common procedures people are leaving the country for include orthopedics, heart surgery, and cosmetic procedures. Other advantages to travel abroad include virtually no waiting lines, which is a bigger issue in countries like Canada, and access to procedures that aren’t offered at home or have a very short track record, such as hip resurfacing and disk nucleus replacement.

There are many companies that help provide people information and resources in planning such a trip, but it isn’t one that should be taken lightly.

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6 Responses to “Are e-Patients More Likely to Try Medical Tourism?”

  1. Susannah Fox says:

    I was just re-reading Chapter 4 of the “e-patients” paper and saw a quote from Gilles Frydman in which he talks about this issue: “When patients in our groups discover that the treatments offered at the top centers are identical to those that have been recommended by their local clinicians, they are always greatly reassured. When patients find evidence suggesting that they’ve been receiving sub-optimal care, they will usually share it with their clinicians… If the doctor is unable or unwilling to [upgrade their services], they will frequently decide to exercise their right of free choice and will go to one of the top specialists or treatment centers…” (see page 61).

  2. Vic Singh says:

    This phenomenon of Medical Tourism is reaching a tipping point. On a recent visit to India I was amazed by the growth of world class private healthcare facilities often staffed and led by US and UK trained doctors.

    With 45 million uninsured, there has to be a way to make this group aware of the options that Medical Outsourcing provides. It can mean the difference between financial bankruptcy and survival for a middle class family in America.

    I have created http://www.medical-treatment-in-india.com and a blog at http://www.medical-treatment-in-india.blogspot.com to help the average person think through the issues. Its FREE. Please feel free to visit and contribute to the debate.

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  4. […] Susannah Fox is the associate director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. She blogs regularly at e-patients.net. […]

  5. […] Susannah Fox is the associate director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. She blogs regularly at e-patients.net. […]

  6. […] Fox is the associate director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. She welcomes your comments here or at e-patients.net. […]

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