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Implications of Medical Tourism on Healthcare Facilities

April 28, 2020

Healthcare is considered a basic human right for every person on earth. Unfortunately, there are some parts of the world where seeing a doctor may not be as simple as it sounds. The high cost of medical insurance has made it hard for people in different countries to attend their basic and sometimes life-saving appointments that are crucial for their survival. This situation has led to the emergence of healthcare tourism, which means traveling from one country to another in search of better medical care.

A recent survey by Bloomberg placed the United States at the 50th position globally for its healthcare coverage. Many critics termed it abysmal. This is because revenue allocation on healthcare and other related budget accounts for about 15%. This has led to a problem where more people are traveling outside the country for their medical care for different reasons. This can highly benefit the patient depending on the location of the doctor and the care sought. However, pushing people outside the country in the name of healthcare tourism for cheaper and quality care is now turning out to be a viable solution.

Reasons for the Rise of Healthcare Tourism in the U.S.

The best way to try and come up with solutions for the healthcare crises in the U.S is by evaluating different reasons why patients seek medical care in a foreign country in the first place. The cost of basic healthcare is often the first and most common reason. Other reasons may include the general attitude of the country. Another reason could be due to the availability of specific medical procedures. Other reasons include the below.

All People are Not Treated Equally

Many celebrities started to share their childbirth experiences in social media which revealed some of the major issues affecting Americans. The number of women who die or have died during and after childbirth. The numbers have increased at a faster rate surpassing other developed nations. Their talk also revealed another significant issue of developing a culturally competent medical system. The National Women Law Center claims that black patients are more likely to get inferior medical care due to their race.

Therefore, many black women opt to visit other places with a fair health system to avoid such discrimination. The problem is that when they travel, they are also more likely to experience the same situation regardless of whether they are on an international or local flight. The best thing the leaders can do is to design a healthcare system that eliminates or reduces the level of stress linked to seeking proper, medical care.

Other Areas are Not Equipped for the Required Care

There are certain unique cases where a patient needs surgery or a specialist who is not in the patient’s country of residence. In such a case, the patient is forced to travel not because of costs or other related problems but due to limited availability. This situation results in another type of medical tourism. It is mostly because of certain rare conditions or surgeries that require specialized and niche knowledge in the area.

The problem is that such physicians are not always readily available. However, even if the specialists are not readily available, there are ambulance flights that are designed to handle such transportation needs. Another flaw with such an arrangement is that it is usually used by people who can afford it. Furthermore, people living in rural areas are subjected to hours of travel before they can reach a specialist and some reach in the nick of time while some don’t make it.

Healthcare is Expensive in the US

Many have either rescheduled or canceled their doctor’s appointments simply because they cannot afford it. Such anticipated high-costs have made many people go without the medical care they need the most. Patients can often postpone their doctor’s appointments until it becomes an emergency where they have no choice. Other patients may decide to cancel their doctor’s appointment because they have already piled up a significant amount of healthcare-related debts.

The popular opinion regarding healthcare as the last option is a clear indicator of some of the accessibility challenges experienced in different parts of the country. As such, many patients may choose to travel to other nations where the cost of healthcare is lower. Often it is because such nations have invested in healthcare accessibility making it cheaper to all citizens. Sometimes it is because the country has few legal restrictions of setting up a practice which translates to a few barriers and therefore cheaper medical care. For instance, many Americans are choosing to have their dental procedures done in Mexico or Costa Rica. This is because the cost of having the same procedure in the US equals the cost of airfare plus the procedure in other countries.