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High U.S. Medical Costs Drive Medical Tourism Growth

September 30, 2010 By: Staff

Medical tourism

, the phenomenon whereby people who live in one country travel to another to receive medical, surgical or dental care for either personal or financial reasons, is of growing interest to U.S. travelers, the Ypartnership reports.

Fully one-half (50 percent) of leisure travelers are now familiar with the concept of “medical tourism,” and one out of six (17 percent) would consider having a medical procedure done outside the U.S. assuming it is of comparable quality, the Ypartnership says in the results of its 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers.

Another one out of five (22 percent) is “not sure,” suggesting they would also be open to considering this as an alternative to treatment at home if certain conditions were met.

The reasons why come as no surprise, the Ypartnership says, given the rapidly escalating cost of major medical care in the U.S. Specifically, among adults who would consider traveling outside the U.S. for major medical care, more than eight out of 10 (84 percent) cite the lower cost as the primary reason why (the cost of performing major surgical procedures can, in some instances, be up to 70 percent less than in the U.S.).

Two-thirds (66 percent) mention comparable or a better quality of care, while four in 10 (43 percent) cite access to medical treatments or procedures that are not covered by their insurance at home or shorter waiting periods to access care (41 percent). Another one out of five (22 percent) cites access to experimental or non-FDA approved treatments and/or concerns about privacy (20 percent).

Where are they most interested in traveling to obtain this care? Canada reigns as the number one choice among the top 10 countries measured in the survey. Closer to home, roughly one out of ten (7 percent) U.S. travelers would be interested in traveling to Puerto Rico for major medical care where the financial incentives are comparable and the travel time considerably less. Canada scored highest with 42 mentions, the UK 32, Germany 31, Sweden 28, France 24, Mexico 13 and India 11.

For further information about the results of the 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers, visit

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