The term ‘medical tourism’ is one that didn’t really enter the public lexicon until the turn of the century.
This refers to the process of travelling outside of your country of residence in pursuit of medical care, usually in order to access treatments that are restricted elsewhere or have work done at a much cheaper price.
But why has medical tourism been on the rise recently, and what are the risks of heading overseas for cosmetic or similar surgeries.
Why is Medical Tourism on the Rise?
While the number of people travelling abroad in pursuit of medical treatment remains relatively small when compared to the total number of people who head overseas each year, it has continued to increase incrementally since the year 2000.
More specifically, a 2016 sample of 250,000 overseas travellers represented just 0.23% of people who left the UK in total during that year. However, this number was markedly higher than the one recorded in 2000, so medical tourism is undoubtedly on the rise on these shores.
It’s also popular throughout the western world, with some 750,000 US citizens having sought medical treatments abroad since 2007. This number has since inched above one million, while the trend shows no sign of abating any time soon.
But why is this number rising? People are certainly more aware of medical tourism and the benefits of this endeavour, particularly in the form of reducing costs and seeking out treatment from a much broader range of countries.
Certainly, the cost of diagnostic testing and post-labour procedure is significantly high in the US and the UK’s private healthcare sector (which is where cosmetic procedure are carried out). These costs fall markedly overseas, however, as does the labour costs of nurses, surgeons and even pharmacists.
In terms of choice, people can now access a much broader range of treatments in more international locations. Among the most popular are Mexico, Columbia and Turkey, while Costa Rica has also emerged as a viable option in recent times.
What are the Risks of Medical Tourism?
There are numerous risks to keep in mind before seeking out treatments abroad. Firstly, it can be hard to research surgeons and treatments in certain countries (either due to language issues or a lack of Internet access), while practitioners in some jurisdictions don’t operate to the same regulatory standards as those in the UK.
Because of this, both the quality of treatment and aftercare can vary wildly from one country to another, increasing the risk of complications and making it hard to resolve these effectively.
In the worst-case scenario, this could encourage you to consider making a hospital negligence claim, which can be highly challenging when overseas depending on the prevailing law and your ability to fund a case (in instances where no win, no fee representation isn’t available).
So, medical tourism should always be approached with care, no matter what cash savings may be on offer!