With healthcare costs continually on the rise, particularly for older Americans who may require more regular care than younger people, more are turning to alternative methods of getting the treatment they need to stay happy and healthy.
This new trend toward seeking out affordable medical care is even taking many boomers and seniors overseas. In all, Patients Beyond Borders, a medical travel guidebook publisher, estimates that about 600,000 Americans will travel abroad to receive some sort of treatment this year, and that number will likely grow between 15% and 20% annually over the next several years as the boomer generation continues to age.
This problem is becoming especially pronounced due to the complicated insurance system that many rely upon to help them afford coverage, and because many retirees go without a healthcare plan, or scale back coverage to bare-bones so that they can better afford it. In all, 16.5% of Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 are without any type of medical insurance.
"I would tend to say that 80% or more of the people using medical tourism are baby boomers," Rajesh Rao, CEO of IndUSHealth, a medical travel program provider for patients and employer healthcare plans, told the Huffington Post. "I would say the bulk of utilization happens with baby boomers just because they’re at an age where they need more intervention."
Experts note that because these treatments are being sought in foreign countries, they're being paid for out of pocket. Even when the cost of round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations and other associated travel expenses are factored into the overall cost, though, they are still traditionally lower than what a patient might face in the United States. For instance, a coronary artery bypass graft would have cost someone $88,000 in the United States last year, compared with $9,500 in India. A hip replacement that costs an average of $33,000 in America costs just $12,500 in Mexico.
Of course, if you're facing the need for a high-cost medical procedure, you should always take the time to review all of your options. In some cases, you may find that going abroad will work best for you given your unique medical situation, but there is no one right way to get the best possible treatment and care.