Millions of people travel abroad for medical
treatment – from dental work to major heart surgery – all done at a fraction of the cost
back home. Medical tourism brings in billions of dollars a year worldwide. So, we wanted
to know, what exactly is medical tourism? Well, since the mid 20th century, healthcare
costs have exploded in many developed countries, especially the United States. Some have blamed
this on the closed system of procedure and drug pricing, which does not allow for free
market competition. So when prices rise, they don’t go back down. Other factors, like
exaggerated insurance billing, malpractice lawsuits, and infrequent, but serious doctor
visits contribute to increasing costs. According to a 2011 OECD report, a procedure
like a heart bypass can cost more than $100,000 dollars in the US. However that same procedure
could run less than $4,000 dollars in Mexico. For those without health insurance or high
deductibles, medical tourism represents a viable and beneficial alternative. For Americans, the most common medical tourism
destinations include Thailand, Mexico, India and Cuba. In many of these developing countries,
medical tourism represents a lucrative and growing source of economic revenue. Countries
are actually competing for medical tourists. In Japan, the government is instituting new
policies that will help increase the number of hospitals accepting foreign patients. Worldwide,
the industry is said to be worth up to $55 billion dollars. However there are certain drawbacks. The US
Center for Disease Control has registered several safety concerns over higher rates
of bacterial infections and diseases for medical tourists. These can be attributed to less
strict sanitation rules in other countries and the presence of contagious diseases that
are otherwise rare in the US. In 2014, 19 American women, who traveled to the Dominican
for plastic surgery, contracted bacterial infections. Additionally, transplant tourism has become
a highly controversial issue. Medical tourists can obtain organs and transplant operations
without waiting in a long line, and for less money. But the World Health Organization says
the organs often come from vulnerable people. Most of the world has completely banned transplant
tourism, however organs can still be purchased on the black market. Medical tourism also presents problems for
locals who now face more competition for healthcare in their own country. Wealthy outsiders can
crowd out native citizens, and even raise the prices for certain procedures by increasing
demand. Healthcare providers, too, can be required to change their practices in order
to accommodate and cater to foreigners. A recent report on healthcare in developed
countries ranked the US last in effectiveness and efficiency. This is despite the fact that
the US spends more money on healthcare per person than any other country. Presently,
the future of medical tourism is expected to remain profitable as experts predict billions
of dollars in revenue growth for the coming years. Another unusual type of tourism? BIRTH tourism.
To learn more about this controversial practice, watch this video. (sound up) Thank you for
watching TestTube! Don’t forget to like and subscribe for new videos every day!