The term ‘medical Tourism’ also known as health or medical travel refers to travelers who have chosen to have medical treatment in a country other than their own, while at the same time receiving equal to or greater than they would have in their own country, and are travelling for medical care because of affordability, as well as better access to care The standard of medical facilities and available treatments vary widely around the world. Home to London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture, the United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and has a population of more than 64 million. As a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary governance system, the UK is also known as a cultural superpower, thanks to its rich and prosperous heritage. The destination welcomes more than 31 million tourists every year, usually arriving to one of the 5 airports that serve the city of London. Known as one of the more globalized economies, its service sector dominates the landscape, contributing around 78% of the nation’s GDP. The United Kingdom’s healthcare system is the oldest and largest single-payer healthcare system in the world, with each of the four destinations having its own system funded through general taxation. The government provides all British citizens free or low cost care under theNHS, also known as the National Health System, leaving a small private sector for routine operations, which caters to people that do not want to wait in line for elective procedures, or are not citizens or residents of the Islands. Being a developed nation, the UK’s quality and accreditation towards its healthcare centres is something to be expected by the patients, for both the public and the private sectors. On one hand, medical tourism is lower than that of UK residents travelling abroad. Patients from the United Kingdom seek medical care abroad for three primary reasons: Waiting times, Cost, and access to specialist care. A growing number of UK residents travel abroad to access treatment. While there is a long and continuing history of patients from abroad travelling to thje UK to seek medical treatment, including in the private sector and privately from the NHS. Patients who travel into the UK for private treatment in the NHS are likely to be more lucrative than private patients’ residents in the UK. Records have it that private patient income resulted from non-residents patients, even though these only accounted for seven percent of patients.
Canada and the United States may have medical industries with strong reputations for being insurable and credible, but Mexico has a medical industry with a strong reputation for being the most affordable and accessible. As developed nations, Canada and the United States are the countries in North America that are known for the quality of their medical care, which is important, but what good is quality when those below a certain household income cannot access the medical services? The medical services and health insurance of the United States is very costly, and the socialized medicine of Canada is only accessible to its citizens and residents. In North America, it is only in Mexico that individuals can hope to find some medical attention that is both affordable and can be performed expediently.
Mexico makes its medicine and medical procedures affordable and accessible to low income households. Mexican citizens and residents are able to take advantage of the affordable healthcare system, as well as a number of people of different nationalities who travel to Mexico for healthcare, particularly from the United States. The installation of Obamacare is changing the healthcare landscape in the United States, but for decades, the juxtaposition of the expensive healthcare in the U.S. and the affordable healthcare in Mexico had United States citizens heading in droves to Mexico for medicines and procedures that would not bankrupt them.
The medical industry of Mexico rarely expects those taking advantage of it to be insured. Health insurance law in Mexico is not stringent like it is in Canada and the United States. Many Mexican citizens are uninsured, and the medical system is set up to accommodate those without insurance. It is true that the certifications of some physicians are questionable and not all of them should be trusted, but many people consider this worth the highly accessible healthcare that can be received in Mexico.
There are a number of reasons someone may want to come to the United States to take advantage of its medical system. This is why the phenomenon known as “medical tourism” has been on the rise in the United States. Medical tourism is exactly what it sounds like: travel for the purpose of medical care. Through out history, people have been making pilgrimages to places they believed would heal their health problems. In ancient history, it may have been a medicine man or an apothecary that advised travels to a region with healing properties. In modern times, it is physicians and specialists advising where the most desirable medical treatment for any particular ailment exists. Now that we live in a time of accessible global travel, medical tourism has exploded across the world, and the United States is a particularly hot destination.
The primary reason that the United States has enormous medical care appeal is because it is statistically where the best doctors in the world practice. The United States, despite being in a horrific amount of federal debt, has the most money per capita of any country on earth. In addition, the United States is a capitalistic economy where the most talented doctors are free to charge the highest prices for their services. Indeed, because health insurance and health services are pricey in the United States, it is people have wealth who travel to the U.S. to use its medical system, but they come in high numbers.
For those who do take the plunge and travel to the United States for its healthcare, there are a great many health insurance options to choose from. The U.S. has one of the most expansive selections of one time and ongoing insurance policies in the world because, again, there is a capitalistic market for them. There are a variety of policies for travelers, visa holders, permanent residents, green card holders and citizens to choose from, each with a varying premium and level of services. If you have money to spend and are seeking the highest quality medical services with a range of options to choose from, the United States is the country to visit.
Canada is known globally as a country with a socialized medical system. This is invaluable for residents and citizens of Canada. But what about to the rest of the world? People from other countries do not have the option of signing up for one of the Canadian provincial health insurance policies, which guarantees free medical care or medical care at a notably low premium. Is there any reason then for a foreigner to come to Canada for the medical system when they do not qualify for Canada’s socialized insurance? Recent developments in Canadian medical tourism would indicate there is.
Canada’s neighbor to the south, the United States, has a reputation for luring in the best doctors to live and practice medicine within the country because of its capitalistic possibilities. However, there is an opposing ethical argument that many first world doctors celebrate which is to make healthcare accessible to every person, regardless of their financial situation. This is the reason many of the world’s most brilliant doctors reside and practice in Canada; because they respect Canada’s position on social healthcare. Canada is also home to some of the most advanced medical research in the world, with funding and academic institutions that easily rival that of the United States (and sometimes even dominate it).
Because of these factors, Canada has become a very desirable destination for medical tourists from around the globe. There has been some ethical backlash over it, because foreigners willing to pay out of pocket have been welcomed into medical institutions with open arms, and critics of Canadian medical tourism point out that it could only be a matter of time before residents and citizens have to start paying out of pocket to receive the medical care they need. Currently, however, this has not been the case. Canadian residents and citizens still receive immediate, quality care under their socialized premiums. Canadians also enjoy the benefit of some socialized mental health services, such as rehab and counseling. Those struggling with addiction or mental disorders can check into a behavioral wellness center or an addiction treatment center Canada and receive government funding in some provinces.
Medical tourism is a recent phenomenon that is taking place all over the globe. In North America in particular, there is a great deal of medical travel taking place between Canada, the United States and Mexico because each country has something unique to offer in its medical system. Medical tourism is when someone travels for the purpose of receiving some kind of medical treatment. People of affluence and ingenuity have been engaging in medical tourism for centuries, but with travel more accessible than it ever has been in history, medical tourism has become a cultural trend. Whether a person requires dental work in Tijuana, surgery in California or the services of BC drug treatment centers, medical tourism across North America can be an attractive option for many.
The medical tourism draw to Canada comes from the respect the world has for the Canadian medical system. The doctors are well respected, the system is very functional and the medical practices are known to be on a socialized health system. The socialized aspect is for citizens and residents, but is still very affordable to outsiders who purchase a specialized healthcare policy for their time in Canada. Many doctors who study medicine around the world reside in Canada, and its healthcare system is known for its incredible diversity and world experience.
The United States medical scene offers a different set of advantages to medical tourists. The U.S. is widely regarded as offering the most sought after doctors and medical practices, but for a hefty fee. Unlike its neighbors to the north and south, the medical system in the United States, until very recently, was highly privatized. Any medical procedure would cost a lot of money, either through insurance premiums or procedures without insurance. Obamacare has radically changed the face of medicine in the United States, but is still a higher premium. Because healthcare is privatized, successful practices can heavily charge customers but also offer the best quality medical treatment.
Mexico, as a developing country offers yet another variety of medical care. People travel to Mexico for the affordability of their medicine and procedures, as they do not have a medical system that is as formal as the U.S. or Canada. Particularly people who do not have health insurance in their own countries travel to Mexico for their range of affordable options for the uninsured. The quality of the medicine and the practices is, however, more questionable than the other countries of North America.