There is simply no way of getting around it: American health care is exorbitantly expensive. But while many people look to government to solve our nation's health care woes, the real solutions lie elsewhere. In fact, the more the government intervenes in health care, the higher the costs seem to rise. Just look at what happened when Obamacare was implemented: costs of care rose and many families suddenly found themselves unable to afford their insurance premiums.
But where government intervention has failed the health care sector, free market innovation has become its savior. The rising costs of health care in both North America and Europe have actually created a void in the marketplace. And medical tourism is filling that void by offering a whole new avenue of choice for health care consumers.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, medical tourism is when someone chooses to travel outside their country of origin, usually to less-developed countries, in search of affordable, quality medical care. And it also happens to be one of the fastest growing global industries. In 2016, this burgeoning sector was valued at $100 billion and is expected to experience 25 percent year-by-year growth by the year 2025. And in an era of soaring medical costs, it is saving health care consumers thousands of dollars and providing them with the care they so desperately need.
The Rise of Medical Tourism
The thought of traveling outside of the United States for health care might sound absurd to many Americans. After all, why on earth would we travel to a developing country for medical treatment when we live in one of the richest countries in the world? The truth is, while American health care costs continue to rise, something quite spectacular is occurring in other parts of the globe: the costs are going down and the quality of care is going up.
In India, for example, the critically acclaimed Narayana Hrudayalaya heart hospital offers cardiac surgeries from $5,000- $7,000. The same surgery in the US would cost a patient upwards of $50,000. And as far as other medical procedures are concerned, in Costa Rica, a knee replacement surgery can cost a patient around $23,000. However, the same surgery, obtained in the US can cost anywhere from $35,000-$60,000.
But it is not just the affordable costs that are appealing to foreign health care consumers. In Costa Rica, for example, the facilities are so pristine, many offer spa services and even provide a private concierge to each of its patients while they recover.
But India and Costa Rica are just two such examples of popular destinations for medical tourism. Countries like Brazil offer medical services at rates 20-30 percent cheaper than the US. And in Singapore, health care costs are 25-40 percent less expensive than in America. It is no wonder, then, that these countries are becoming popular destinations for medical tourists. In fact, medical tourism is becoming so popular, it is attracting consumers from all corners of the globe.
In 2016 alone, over 1.4 million Americans left the United States with the explicit purpose of seeking more affordable medical care abroad. Canada and European countries are also seeing an influx of people choosing to travel internationally in search of cheaper medical care. According to research conducted by IPK International, 3-4 percent of the global population travels abroad for health care. But all this sounds almost too good to be true. It seems almost impossible to believe that less-developed countries could offer quality care at a fraction of the cost.