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Health & Fit US 'medical tourists' seek cheap health care abroad

17:12  14 october  2019
17:12  14 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Europe is a sought -after destination for US medical tourists , though it does little to attract them, unlike emerging economies such as Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The United States itself receives health tourists —its highly advanced health care system appeals to patients with massive

After researching medical tourism options, she saved up the money and contacted a specialist agency to organize her trip over the border to Tijuana, where Each year, an estimated 20 million " medical tourists " seek treatment around the world, according to Patients Beyond Borders. About 1.9 million of

When Veronica Merrill decided to undergo stomach surgery for weight loss, she found two options: pay $12,000 at home in the United States, or have it done in Mexico for $4,000.

She packed her suitcase.

Her insurance would only cover the operation if she was morbidly obese and suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

a person sitting on a table: Veronica Merrill smiles at a peddler while heading back to the United States after having a bariatric surgery in Tijuana© Guillermo Arias Veronica Merrill smiles at a peddler while heading back to the United States after having a bariatric surgery in Tijuana a person walking down a sidewalk in front of a brick building: A doctor enters the Oasis of Hope hospital in Tijuana, where a surgeon says he operates on © Guillermo Arias A doctor enters the Oasis of Hope hospital in Tijuana, where a surgeon says he operates on "two or more foreigners every day" This was not the case for the 50-year-old, who weighs 210 pounds (95 kilos) but aspires to slim down to 160 -- precisely because she wants to avoid ending up with those medical conditions.

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Veronica Merril from Phoenix, Arizona, waits for her bariatric surgery at Hospital Oasis of Hope in Tijuana on October 4, 2019, Baja California state , Mexico. Image Credit: AFP.

Under universal care proposals, the US would likely end up with a system where, like in Canada and Europe, non-urgent procedures such as stomach Europe is a sought -after destination for US medical tourists , though it does little to attract them, unlike emerging economies such as Singapore

"It's sad that I have to come to another country" for the procedure, said Merrill, who drives a school bus in rural Arizona and is highly critical of the US health system -- the most expensive in the world.

"We shouldn't have to do that. That's crazy. And we're the only ones (with this system), and that is depressing."

After researching medical tourism options, she saved up the money and contacted a specialist agency to organize her trip over the border to Tijuana, where weight-loss operations and dental treatments are popular.

a group of people standing in a room: Doctors carry out a bariatric surgery at Oasis of Hope hosptail in Tijuana© Guillermo Arias Doctors carry out a bariatric surgery at Oasis of Hope hosptail in Tijuana Others travel to the Mexican city for treatment of cardiovascular conditions or cancer, orthopedic work and fertility care, as well as to buy medications.

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When Veronica Merrill decided to undergo stomach surgery for weight loss, she found two options: pay ,000 at home in the United States , or have it done in Mexico for ,000. This was not the case for the 50-year-old, who weighs 210 pounds (95 kilos) but aspires to slim down to 160 -- precisely because.

Medical tourism involves cheaper foreign medical care . Would you travel overseas for surgery Some medical tourists are citizens of countries that cover them with national health programs, like Medical tourists seek a variety of medical care abroad . Expensive surgical procedures are the

"If I only could have done it in the US... (but) I can't pay that much money," she told AFP. "I just want to be healthy."

- No price regulation -

Each year, an estimated 20 million "medical tourists" seek treatment around the world, according to Patients Beyond Borders.

About 1.9 million of those people are Americans.

Mexico and Colombia -- which many Americans associate more with drug trafficking than health care -- are among the most popular destinations, along with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

a group of people walking down the street: Foreign patients leave Oasis of Hope hospital in Tijuana, a popular destination for © Guillermo Arias Foreign patients leave Oasis of Hope hospital in Tijuana, a popular destination for "medical tourists" They all offer lower costs and high-quality infrastructure.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two prominent Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election, have proposed universal health coverage -- an idea that Merrill considers "logical."

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USA Medical Tourism - Popular Destinations. Many American patients visit South or Central American countries like Brazil, Argentina or Reason Magazine’s Jim Epstein has estimated that more and more Americans will seek medical care abroad in order to find “fast, affordable, and effective treatments”

Receiving medical care abroad can be risky. “ Medical tourism ” refers to traveling to another country for medical care . It’s estimated that thousands of US residents travel Remember that foreign standards for health care providers and facilities may be different from those of the United States .

For now, Merrill turned to a company called Medical Tourism Corporation to organize every detail of her trip -- including her flight from Phoenix to San Diego, the driver who took her across the border and a luxury hotel.

Altogether, the tickets, hotel and surgery -- at the Oasis of Hope hospital, right by the border -- cost her $3,880. She paid in cash.

"We do the coordination... (we) have a destination manager in those cities who would help a patient with the language, the local logistics and things like that," said Deepak Datta, who founded Medical Tourism Corporation 13 years ago.

The company sends 60-70 people abroad each month to countries around the world, mainly Mexico.

"I operate on two or more foreigners every day," said surgeon Luis Cazares, who removed 80 percent of Merrill's stomach.

He said his greatest flow of patients is during the tax refund season in the United States, after April.

According to Gerald Kominski, a professor of health policy at UCLA in Los Angeles, the US does "little to regulate prices, in contrast to all other high-income nations."

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Tours2 Health is the leading health tourism company. It is the online destination for medical tourist looking for affordable dental tourism , orthopedic surgeries, cancer treatment, ivf treatment and other cheap medical health care treatment abroad . We at Tours2 Health care for your well being

Medical tourism refers to people traveling abroad to obtain medical treatment. In the past, this usually referred to those who traveled from less-developed countries to major medical centers in highly developed countries for treatment unavailable at home.

"Medical tourism from a high-income nation like the US is indicative of a problem with affordability, as opposed to quality," he added.

- Universal coverage -

But even if "Medicare for All" were introduced as Sanders and Warren have urged, Americans likely would not stop seeking cheaper care abroad, says Medical Tourism Association CEO Jonathan Edelheit.

After President Barack Obama's health care reforms in 2010, which required all adults to have insurance plans whether through work or the government, medical tourism by Americans expanded, he said.

Some employers whose medical costs "almost doubled since Obamacare was in place" sent staff abroad, he said, citing a company that saved $20 million in five years by sending employees for orthopedic and weight-loss operations outside the US.

Under universal care proposals, the US would likely end up with a system where, like in Canada and Europe, non-urgent procedures such as stomach operations require years on a waiting list.

"Wait times... will push people to go for medical tourism" to get treatment earlier, he predicted.

Indeed, many of the foreign patients at Oasis of Hope hospital are Canadian.

Europe is a sought-after destination for US medical tourists, though it does little to attract them, unlike countries such as Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

The United States itself receives health tourists -- its highly advanced health care system appeals to patients with massive purchasing power from Arab and Asian countries.

But that is a luxury Merrill cannot afford.

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