Medical Tourism: How To Get Treatment In Your Home Country With An Expensive Healthcare System

Medical Tourism: How To Get Treatment In Your Home Country With An Expensive Healthcare System

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Health, Published On
June 14, 2023
, 476 Views

Purpose: To educate people about medical tourism, the reason behind its popularity, the ways to afford treatment within the US, and persuade them to use Credee.

America spends more on health care compared to any other developed nation. And yet, it has worse health outcomes. How is this possible?

As alarming as it sounds, this is the reality of today’s America. Despite having access to the best technology and skilled medical experts, Americans choose to get treatment in other lesser developed nations than their own. They prefer getting services in countries like Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, and Thailand that are 30%-65% less expensive and more welcoming.

So does this fashion of outward medical tourism in the U.S. has no end, or does it? Can struggling Americans afford medical care in their home country while the expensive healthcare system exists? A few options, like healthcare payment plans, could be the saviors.

WHAT IS MEDICAL TOURISM?

Medical tourism is when people travel to other countries to get medical treatment. This can be because it’s cheaper or because the treatment they need isn’t available or affordable in their home country. Some people also combine medical treatment with travel and explore new places while getting medical care.

It is not clear from where the term “medical tourism” came. Though, it is believed to have been coined in the late 1990s by travel agencies and medical professionals promoting the concept of traveling abroad for medical care. The term was first used at a travel industry conference in 2000. Then it quickly gained popularity as more people began to travel to other countries for medical treatment.

The international medical tourism market size is predicted to reach around USD 346.1 billion by 2032 and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.59% over the next decade.

Medical Tourism: How To Get Treatment In Your Home Country With An Expensive Healthcare System

WHY IS MEDICAL TOURISM SO POPULAR?

There are a variety of reasons why medical tourism has gained popularity, including:

Cost Savings

As mentioned, medical treatments in some countries can be significantly less expensive for people than in their home countries. Patients may be able to save thousands of dollars by traveling abroad for medical care. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), getting treatment abroad can reduce the cost of a procedure by 40%-80% (depending on your country of origin).

Access to Cutting-Edge Treatments

Cutting-edge treatments may not be available in a patient’s home country. Some nations have more advanced medical technology and procedures a person may be seeking.

Reduced Wait Times

In some countries, the wait times for specific medical procedures can be extremely long. Patients in need of urgent or necessary medical care may not be able to wait that long. They are likely to turn to medical tourism to receive treatment more quickly.

Quality of Care

Many medical tourism destinations have world-renowned medical facilities and highly trained medical professionals. Patients may choose to travel to these destinations to receive the medical care they think is of higher quality than what is available in their home country.

WHY IS HEALTHCARE SO EXPENSIVE IN AMERICA?

There’s no universal healthcare in the country. So anytime anyone gets medical care, someone has to pay for it.

In the U.S., private companies administer most health insurance and people must pay for it themselves, irrespective of whether their employers subsidize some of it. For those unemployed, it’s a different ball game altogether!

Now is there a structural problem–or can it be solved with innovation and technology? While it is a mix of both, there is something everyone can do about it.

The government, healthcare experts, employers, and consumers, each person has a role to play in making healthcare affordable.

Nonetheless, let’s look at some of the primary factors why healthcare is so expensive in America:

  • Administrative Costs:

The U.S. healthcare system has a complex administrative structure with multiple layers of bureaucracy, which adds significant cost to the system. For instance, healthcare providers must deal with a wide range of regulations, paperwork, and insurance requirements, which can increase the cost of care.

  • Prescription Drug Prices:

The cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is significantly higher than in other countries due to a lack of government price controls. The pharmaceutical industry spends a considerable amount on marketing, research and development, and patent protections that add to the cost of prescription drugs.

  • High Demand for Healthcare Services:

The U.S. has an aging population, so there is a higher demand for healthcare services. This increased demand, coupled with a shortage of healthcare providers, drives up the cost of healthcare.

  • Insurance Complexity:

The U.S. healthcare system relies heavily on private insurance, which can be complex and costly for both patients and providers. Insurance companies often negotiate rates with healthcare providers, which can lead to price disparities.

There’s also been a sharp rise in high-deductible insurance plans (around 50% of the plans). Plus, higher reimbursement rates are coming directly from patients. On top of that, 15% of adults ineligible for Medicare are completely uninsured.

Individuals who are uninsured or underinsured may have learned about the cost of care the hard way, with some pushed into debt and bankruptcy.

According to an estimate, medical bills/expenses directly cause 66.5% of bankruptcies in the U.S.

  • Technology and Innovation:

The U.S. is a leader in medical technology and innovation, but these advancements often come with a high price tag. For example, new medical devices, procedures, and treatments can be expensive to develop, test, and bring to market.

  • Defensive Medicine:

Many healthcare providers practice defensive medicine, which involves ordering unnecessary tests and procedures to protect themselves from potential malpractice lawsuits. This practice can drive up the cost of healthcare without providing any additional benefits to patients.

Overall, the combination of these factors contributes to the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. compared to other countries.

HOW DO YOU PAY FOR TREATMENT IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY WHEN THERE’S AN EXPENSIVE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM?

Affording medical care in America for most people is a constant struggle due to the lack of government regulations. Regardless, the government alone may not be able to streamline affordable healthcare for Americans. Employers, affluent consumers, and medical experts are also responsible for tackling this mammoth problem.

But wait! There’s a ray of hope for everyone. There are several options you can explore to get treatment in your home country without having to travel abroad for medical tourism.

  • Look for low-cost or free clinics:

Many cities and towns in America have low-cost or free clinics offering basic medical care to patients who cannot otherwise afford it. These clinics, staffed by volunteer healthcare professionals, may provide services such as check-ups, screenings, and basic treatments.

  • Research financial assistance programs:

Several hospitals and medical facilities offer financial assistance programs to help patients cover the cost of their medical care. Remember, these programs may be income or need-based to become eligible. If you do, they can help reduce or eliminate the cost of medical procedures and treatments.

  • Negotiate with healthcare providers:

If you are facing a large medical bill, try negotiating with your healthcare provider to reduce the cost of your treatment.

  • Look for providers offering flexible payment plans:

Some providers offer healthcare payment plans through third-party providers like Credee, allowing patients to spread the cost of their medical care over time. This can be especially helpful for expensive procedures or treatments that are not covered by insurance.

  • Consider medical tourism within the US:

While medical tourism typically involves traveling to another land for treatment, there are also options for the same within the country. Some states have lower healthcare costs than others, and patients may be able to save money by traveling to these states for medical care.

  • Shop around for healthcare services:

Prices for medical procedures and treatments can vary widely depending on the provider and location. By shopping around and comparing prices, you may be able to find a provider offering similar services at a lower cost.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Many of you may not have health insurance or have insurance with high deductibles or co-payments. This can make it prohibitively expensive to seek medical care within the country. Plus, your insurance may not cover the procedure or treatment you need, pushing you to bear substantial out-of-pocket costs.

All these and several other reasons may compel you to opt for medical tourism. However, it’s important to carefully research the quality and safety of medical facilities in other countries and consider the potential risks before deciding to travel for medical treatment.

The wisest choice would be to stay here on your land and pick one of the above-listed options, preferably healthcare payment plans, to get your treatment.

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