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PT and the Greater Good

Medical Tourism

Published October 22, 2013 4:48 PM by Dean Metz

Over the years that I've been blogging about my findings whilst working here in the UK, I've had more than a few people state something like, "Well if the care is so good there, why do so many people come to the USA for the best treatment?"

Some people do travel for improved care, that is true. What many don't realize is that Americans also do a fair amount of traveling abroad for healthcare. I've blogged recently about people traveling to Belgium for elective hip replacements. They found markedly reduced costs and equivalent care. I did a little more digging. I found this report from Deloitte on the projections of Americans travelling abroad for their care.

In 2007, there were 750,000 Americans who went abroad for their care. According to Patients Beyond Borders, 900,000 Americans are estimated to seek out healthcare outside the US this year. The amount of information available with a simple Internet search was pretty surprising to me. That an investment company like Deloitte advises on this practice was really startling.

No matter which side of the Affordable Care Act barricades one stands on, it's becoming increasingly clear that the status quo is just not an option. Our system is losing revenue from people going abroad who can afford that option, while those who are too sick, too poor, or perhaps both, require the greatest amount of available resources. Meanwhile the population ages, resulting in fewer people paying into Medicare and more and more people needing the resources it provides. Costs continue to rise and those of middle class means are left to foot the bill.

A huge part of the Physiotherapy 2013 conference discussion here focused on trying to tackle this issue. It was made plain and clear that nobody in health will be able to practice as they have been. Innovation and dramatic change will be required to meet the challenges of the coming years. Does the UK have the answers? No. But they do recognize there will be difficult times ahead and are trying to position themselves as proactively as possible.

Don't like the ACA? OK. What is your better idea?

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Speaking on behalf of a co-worker where our workplace health insurance has individuals meeting a 3k+ deductible before coverage, he found it far cheaper to fly to the Dominican Republic for medical procedures paying out of pocket.  The procedure, travel costs, hotel/recovery time and misc. expenses cost less than meeting the deductible and what he would be responsible for here with his insurance plan.  It's definitely not for everyone, but in his situation, it was what he could afford for the healthcare he needed.

Kei Linn October 22, 2013 6:14 PM

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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