Medical Tourism and the Digital Nomad

Medical tourism. It is a phrase that has started to make the rounds in the last decade with increasing frequency, and while some people may be aware of its general meaning simply by the self-explanatory nature of the phrase itself, not everyone truly grasps just how global the concept really is. In a hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars a year health industry where the rising cost of healthcare in the United States has more and more people opting out of carrying health insurance, more and more people are looking abroad for their solutions.

For example, take Taiwan into consideration. According to an article written by Sarah Tung on July 16, 2010 for, a liver transplant surgery that costs around $300,000 in the United States only costs around $91,000 in this Asian mega city, transforming her into one of the leading medical tourism cities for the 21st century for savvy international expats.

But Asia is not alone in her perch atop the medical tourism mountain of affordability. According to a study put out by the Archives of Internet Medicine, the average cost of heart surgery in Canada is 83{d12c25610243042b09500b0060ea6d37dace7f22fb8ef1db378f2f4a8d1039ec} less than it is in the United States…yet there is absolutely no difference in the outcome of post-surgery lifestyle and condition when you compare the two side by side.

Which leads to one of the biggest hurdles currently facing medical tourism: the belief that countries outside of the United States are offering sub-standard care for the lowered price tag. Thankfully, the advent of global Internet and the globalization of information around the world have helped spread the truth about medical tourism to expats from all walks of life, which is that you can get the exact same procedures and surgeries performed in countries around the world…for a fraction of the price it would cost you back in the U.S.

The reality of the 21st century is that every major city on the planet has access to first-class medical facilities, and the doctors and staff who are working in these facilities are not backwater surgeons. They go to the same schools and universities as the doctors you are used to dealing with, and the international standards for hygiene and patient care are just as stringent in places like the European Union as they are in the United States. And just as you can verify the credentials of your surgeon back home (as any discerning client will do, along with asking for second and third opinions), you can just as easily verify the qualifications of any doctor you decide to work with abroad when utilizing medical tourism to your advantage.

With a rising cost of healthcare that sees more and more Americans every year choosing to opt out of the health insurance program and choose a life abroad as an expat rather than pay the ridiculous fees, there is a reason why the medical tourism industry is only continuing to grow. Countries like Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Bulgaria are just a handful of examples of places where you can travel and have access to cheap, universal systems that are also paired with private healthcare. Bulgaria, for example, has a private system that costs around $25 per month to access, or you can use the universal plan for a mere 6 leva per month (the equivalent of 4 USD as of January, 2012). Meanwhile, Colombia’s national system only costs around $250 per year when compared against the United States with their monthly policies that can be double or triple the annual fee of the South American country.

At the end of the day, medical tourism is just one of many reasons why location independent expats are choosing to live abroad rather than stay at home. When combined with the fact that the cost of living is a fraction of what it is back home, it just makes sense from a health and wellness perspective to live somewhere where you have access to world-class medical care that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. And until the United States can offer a comparative price package, more and more people will continue to travel abroad for their healthcare needs.

Next Post

Pattaya Thailand Travel Guide

The town of Pattaya is located just an hour from the Bangkok International Airport and is a popular weekend getaway for residents of the capital city. The lively, fun, and exciting town offers tropical beaches, some family-friendly activities, and value shopping. Dining options are inexpensive, plentiful and feature some of […]

You May Like