U.S. travelers' growing interest in Medical Tourism
Wednesday 6, October 2010
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 as revealed in the results of the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers.
Fielded in February 2010, the study details familiarity with the medical tourism concept, the reasons for considering this alternative to domestic care, and countries in which U.S. citizens would be most likely to seek this type of care.
Fully one-half (50%) of leisure travelers are now familiar with the concept of medical tourism, and one out of six (17%) would consider having a medical procedure done outside the U.S. assuming it is perceived to be of comparable quality. Another one out of five (22%) is "not sure," suggesting they would also be open to considering this as an alternative to treatment at home if certain conditions were met.
Given the rapidly escalating cost of major medical care in the U.S., interest in exploring the benefits of medical tourism comes as no surprise. Among adults who would consider traveling outside the U.S. for major medical care, more than eight out of ten (84%) cite the lower cost as the primary reason why (the cost of performing major surgical procedures can, in some instances, be up to 70% less than in the U.S.). Two-thirds (66%) mention comparable or a better quality of care, while four in ten (43%) cite access to medical treatments or procedures that are not covered by their insurance at home or shorter waiting periods to access care (41%). Another one out of five (22%) cites access to experimental or non-FDA approved treatments and/or concerns about privacy (20%).
Among countries measured in the survey as possible medical tourism destinations, Canada reigns as the number one choice. The top ten countries (aided) include:
Closer to home, roughly one out of ten (7%) of 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.
The Portrait of American Travelers is national survey of 2,524 U.S. households that was conducted in February 2010. The results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media habits on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more.
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