‘Surgical procedure’ and ‘luxurious vacation’ are two concepts that don’t seem to go hand-in-hand, but since the recent rise in healthcare costs, travelers are seeking out medical vacations as a way to see new destinations while undergoing treatments or completing procedures. According to MedRetreat, a US-based company that specializes in helping travelers obtain appropriate and affordable treatments overseas, medical tourism helps save up to 80% of the total healthcare costs that may be incurred in the US.
1) Mexico – Given the proximity for the American traveler, Mexico is an obvious choice for tourists – especially those within driving distance. Mexico has a long history of attracting those seeking out alternative treatments for cancer (as recently depicted in the movie ‘Dallas Buyers Club’). Many pharmaceuticals that are not yet approved in the United States are accessible at one of Mexico’s many cancer institutes. Mexico has also become known for more affordable dental treatments and plastic surgeries.
2) Panama – In 2011, Panama began a new program issuing free health insurance to all tourists during the first 30 days of their stay. Although coverage is limited, given the attractive climate and location, Panama has seen a 20% rise in medical tourism since making this change. “Health insurance is an incentive for tourists visiting Panama as well as all other attractions of the country as a tourist destination. Those who take advantage of the health services in the country will see that Panama is an ideal place for medical tourism with highly trained physicians and hospitals” said Minister of Tourism of Panama and Director of the ATP, Solomon Shamah.
3) Turkey – Already a popular tourist destination thanks to its historic attractions, Turkey also boasts the highest number of Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited facilities anywhere in the world, outside the US. The Turkish government also has a high level of quality assurance standards that their hospitals all must adhere to. Cosmetic surgery, hair transplants, and eye surgeries are all popular medical procedures, according to Health Tourism Turkey.
4) Brazil – Although prices vary widely, Brazil is home to some of the best-known medical centers for plastic surgery. It is home to the highest number of practicing cosmetic surgeons per capita in the world, and according to The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), Brazil also reigns #3 in terms of countries with the most surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures (USA is #1).
If taking in beautiful views or catching some sun while seeking medical treatment sounds like a great idea, be sure to check the JCI (Joint Commission International) to ensure the hospital is accredited and therefor safe. Ensuring quality has been approved, even on your medical vacation, could save you from unnecessary trauma.