November 15, 2019
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Why Do Americans Travel to Other Countries for Medical Care?

Many factors currently contribute to the growing number of Americans who are traveling to other countries for certain medical procedures. Some are motivated out of necessity, while others choose to do it purely based on personal preference. There are plenty of good reasons to seek medical intervention in other countries and there is minimal risk as long as patients plan their trip well and research their destination carefully. Aside from possible travel difficulties, going abroad for healthcare also means receiving treatment that isn’t necessarily subject to the same regulatory or enforcement oversight found in the United States.

Related resource: Top 20 Master’s Degree Programs in Healthcare Management at Smaller Colleges in the North

Access to Restricted Treatment

Modern countries have many things in common when it comes to laws and regulations, but some of the small differences can be huge for some people. In some cases, people travel abroad to participate in trials or new treatment that hasn’t been cleared for use in the US yet. Others visit foreign nations for surgeries, procedures or medications that they can’t get in their homeland. Seeking this kind of treatment is hazardous, but can be worth it if there are no other options available.

Reduce Medical Costs

One of the main reasons why people in the United States consider foreign medical intervention is affordability. According to data gathered in 2017, over 10 percent of Americans can’t afford a personal health plan, according to Insider. People who have minimal or no insurance can face high costs even from standard levels of care that can quickly cripple an average household’s finances. Even Americans with health insurance may travel for financial reasons if the procedure they want is not covered by their policy. Optional procedures, like cosmetic surgeries, are prime candidates for medical traveling.

Seeking Specialist Services

Even though the United States is one of the largest nations and has one of the most robust healthcare systems in the world, the high level of specialization required for some treatments necessitates crossing the border. Some diseases or treatments are so specific or difficult that only a handful of people on the planet can address them. There are also plenty of niche clinics, hospitals and other medical establishments that cater to specific needs, which may not be available domestically.

Privacy or Preference

People who have achieved a great deal of wealth, fame or notoriety may travel overseas for certain types of procedures. Business executives and political candidates may pursue this option out of a need for confidentiality, as public awareness of the procedure could jeopardize their professional interests. Celebrities and other people who are widely-known may simply want to recover in peace and privacy at a location where they are not readily recognizable.

Whether they feel like their best chance for recovery is in a foreign facility or they don’t have the money to cover costs of domestic care, thousands of Americans leave the country to seek health services every year. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this kind of travel, patients should carefully consider the possible risks and challenges that their decision will bring.