Medical Tourism The Costly Paradox of Healthcare Technology
There has been a large increase in the number of people traveling to other countries for medical treatments in recent years. ‘Medical tourism’ as it is called has seen unprecedented growth. This rise is due to the availability of medical treatment in developing countries at a fraction of the price of their home country.
When you consider that in American hospitals and doctors’ offices that spending doubles every 13 years, it is hardly surprising that 1.25 million Americans travelled abroad for medical treatment in 2014.For example, In Brazil a 180,000 foreign patients travelled there for cosmetic surgery in 2013. Brazil has developed a reputation for performing high quality cosmetic surgery at affordable costs, with savings of up to 30%.
Developing countries can perform medical procedures at a lower cost for a variety of reasons. They also benefit from lower real estate costs, and the price for rent is far lower than in the U.S. They can also take advantage of the lower labor costs in developing countries.
The important thing to remember is that this does not mean that the quality is compromised. Developing countries are finding niches and honing their skills in that area. This means people are getting high quality work at affordable prices. For example, 50,000 Americans cross the border to Mexico for dental work every year, and the quality of the work is high there.
While in many industries technology drives down the cost for the final consumer, this is not true in the medical industry. In the United States, too much money is being spent on technologies that are not worth the investment, and money is wasted on technologies that are supported by little or no scientific evidence.
The focus should be on using technological developments to improve healthcare delivery, and investments in technologies should only be made if they have a proven net benefit. At the current rate, medical tourism will continue to grow and it is vital that the American medical industry tries to fight back.
This infographic from PreTax Health outlines the growth of medical tourism, the reasons for the high cost of treated in developed countries, and offers a potential solution to reduce costs on home soil.