Is Medical Tourism a Viable Health Option?


As the costs of quality medical care continues to skyrocket in the United States, many are turning to the phenomenon of medical tourism to receive steeply discounted medical treatments from facilities that boast of world-class talent. There is certainly a number of advantages to saving money and walking away with the same great medical care that you might expect from a doctor or surgeon who is given a visa in the United States to practice. However, the question may not be that cut and dry if we look deeper into the realities of international medical tourism and the quality of care received. Therefore, it is important for Americans considering medical procedures overseas to do their homework and to consider the following wisdom in the matter.

What is Medical Tourism?

When people talk about medical tourism, they are literally talking about taking a vacation to a foreign country for medical care on a tourist visa. As a bona fide U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport, you are permitted entry into 116 countries without having to go through the hassle of applying to get a visa. This is one of the largest visa-free travel passports in the world and a great way to open up doors where you think there may be an opportunity. But, as stated, there is more than meets the eye when you are dealing with foreign countries and the complexities of the medical industries and governments in what are often third-world nations. If the whole scope of medical tourism is to save money, then you can bet that the majority of it is going to take place in undeveloped nations where a U.S. dollar stretches a lot further on the currency exchange.

Benefits of Medical Tourism

Obviously, there is a light at the end of the tunnel when you are taking a trip to have procedures done, or no one would be flying to feed the medical tourism industry. The major benefit of medical tourism is, once again, saving money. However, saving money doesn't mean that you are settling for the same procedures that you would have done in the United States for less. Saving money also means that you can afford the top world-class talent even at rates that are one-half or one-third of what you might pay for an average doctor in the United States. No matter how undeveloped and poor the country might be, places like Peru also have world-class dentists and surgeons who have better education and more modern equipment than 99.9-percent of U.S. practices. Because the cost of living there and establishing a major practice is much less, they are able to set aside money for better tools and training. This means better care at a better price. The major benefits are:

  • Lower cost
  • Vacation experience
  • Access to world-class talent
  • Modern medical equipment
  • Innovative methods available

Risks of Medical Tourism

When you are traveling to third-world countries there is always the risk of being kidnapped or becoming the victim of crime. You have to consider the security and safety of the area where you are having the medical work completed. Generally, foreign governments provide a greater level of security in touristy areas to insulate rich foreigners from any of the major crime in the country. The other risks are the risks of infection and sickness. Even if the water quality is good in places like Israel or Europe, your body may not have a natural tolerance to those pathogens. In other countries, the risk of poor water quality is even higher and may require vaccinations before you travel to tolerate the local cuisine and environment at all.

You also may run into trouble if there is a problem. Using your credit card rather than paying with cash, checks, or debit cards is the only way to protect yourself from financial loss. Any liability beyond that may be difficult to recoup for a botched surgery or scam scenario.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor is it meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Any treatment or advice used may have varying results between individuals. Readers with health-related questions, are always encouraged to seek proper consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider. No information on this website should be used to ignore any medical or health-related advice, nor should it be the root cause for a delay in a consultation with a physician or a certified healthcare provider.

No information on this website should be used to start the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, natural and herbal products, homeopathic medicine and other mentioned products prior to a consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider.