Medical Tourism

Thirty percent of patients considering a $10,000 cosmetic surgery procedure would travel outside the US for the surgery, if it were cheaper.   This report is according to a 2007 online American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery survey.

After cost savings, privacy was the next most popular reason.   Interestingly, more than 1/3 of the people surveyed report that they would go of shore for procedures not available in the US.   Breast surgery is a common surgery driving the popularity for medical tourism.   A significant contributing factor being that some breast implants are not approved by the FDA and are only available in Europe and Canada.

In the study, the most desirable destinations for medical tourism and cosmetic surgery were Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and United Kingdom.  All lovely vacation destinations to be sure, but I have never been a fan of leaving our country for medical care.   As a physician, I am familiar with the rigorous standards of medical education here.   Both medical schools and residency training programs are held to very high standards.   Licensure and Board Certification either require training in accredited programs or minimum performance on standardized testing.   It is not easy to become board certified in any medical sub-specialty in America.   I like this high minimum standard.

There is often no recourse for patients when things go wrong, like judicial provisions in America.   The ethics and quality of care may be affected without the presence of these safeguards.   Cost is just one of many elements that should be considered when researching medical tourism.

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