Every year, summer travelers journey to exotic locations for not only fun in the sun but also exceptional health care. Some people pack their bags for plush resorts on white-sand beaches. Others carry their passports to foreign clinics for medical care. The tourism industry calls these travelers “medical tourists.”
The rising cost of health care in the United States causes many residents to consider medical tourism. TheCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 750,000 Americans travel abroad for medical care each year. As the number of uninsured and under-insured people grows, the number of medical travelers will likely increase too.
Medical Tourism: A Growing Industry
Medical tourism is a booming industry in the 21st century, to the tune of $40 billion in 2013. A “Bloomberg report” says medical tourists seek everything from cosmetic surgery to dental work to cancer treatment. While foreign medical care has some risks, most people get just what they are looking for: high quality care at affordable prices.
Health travel agencies are springing up across the country. Some insurance networks participate in these endeavors. Due to an increase in cross-border health services, universities now train doctors and nurses for global health care as well as travel health careers.
Top Medical Travel Destinations
To attract American and European patients, many countries promote their medical technology and safety standards in addition to low prices. The “Hindustan Times” reports India as a top destination for medical travelers. Mexico, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey are other medical tourism hotspots.
Medical centers in these countries adhere to some of the highest standards in the world, and many hospitals are American-accredited facilities. They offer the best value for a variety of services. Weight loss surgery and cosmetic procedures are the most-requested services. Patients also travel abroad for dental work, laser eye surgery, spinal fusion, heart bypass surgery, cancer treatment, sex change operations, and hard-to-treat conditions.
Travel Health Care Careers
Traveling health care providers, such as travel nurses, work in a specific location for a certain amount of time. Some work in foreign medical centers, caring for medical tourists after surgery. Others travel around the country, working where they are needed.
Traveling health care assignments range typically range from 8 weeks to 6 months. Travel nurses have the freedom to choose where and when they work. The wages are highly competitive, and travel costs and living arrangements are included in the job. A passport and adventurous spirit is essential for travel nurses, and companies like Everyday Uniforms can dress them for the job.
According to the company website,Everyday Uniforms, is a leading source of medical uniforms and scrubs. Their catalog features medical scrubs, uniform tops, drawstring pants and jackets for men and women. Online uniform stores are a good way to get stylish, high quality clothes at affordable prices.
Preparing for Medical Travel
The CDC encourages American travelers to know the risks associated with medical tourism, depending on the destination and procedure. Potential risks include communication problems, unsafe equipment and practices, counterfeit medications, antibiotic resistance and poorly screened blood supplies.
To prepare for treatment abroad, medical tourists should see a travel doctor and possibly an attorney before the trip to discuss travel safety, medical risks, legal actions and other important matters. The CDC suggests additional guidance from organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).