Medical Tourism: Boom or Bust? Comment

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"Stephano says the figure is between 120,000 and 150,000 patients a year -- about what was reported in 2007 -- when she and Edelheit started their association. Although tourists used to go abroad mainly for plastic surgery and other elective procedures, she says, more are now traveling for operations that their insurance won't cover, including hip and knee replacements.

Trips are usually made with the help of a "facilitator" like San Diego-based Satori World Medical, which promises knowledge of the best facilities abroad and creates a complete itinerary for patients, from initial sight-seeing to physician appointments, to scheduling the procedure, tacking on extra rest-and-relaxation days for recuperation.

Stephano says 87 countries have established plans for promoting medical tourism, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, India, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China, Egypt, and Turkey. "

Medical tourism can only see an increase as the entire world becomes more globalized. The increased access to air travel plus the emerging economies that allow for other countries other than the US to have high quality health care allow for this.

Most importantly is to understand that information is traveling extremely fast. The speed of information makes virtually impossible for a patient to make instantaneous price and service comparisons and decide for a more value proposition.

Aside from the concept of value that applies to every industry, specifically in terms of health care, as long as health care costs continue to increase in the United States, patients will continue to seek better and more affordable alternatives. The vacation part is a bonus.

What emerging economies have to continue to do, and they have, is to train their population in learning English since they are in Kindergarden. With a solid English as a second language population, countries like Costa Rica will continue to see the rewards of the new luxury: value.

If you wish to seek advice about your next surgery don't hesitate to contact Universal Plastic Surgery. If you speak only English don't worry, doctor Madelein Centeno MD is fully bilingual and will answer all your inquiries in your own language.