Missing From The Health Care Reform Debate: Medical Tourism

As the mind-numbing stupidity rages on in the debate over health care reform, there has been one booming industry that has gotten little attention a

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As the mind-numbing stupidity rages on in the debate over health care reform, there has been one booming industry that has gotten little attention as of late -- Medical Tourism. Fox News has tried to trash the industry, but it's becoming more and more popular.

We've heard the right wing talking points about how people from all over the world come here for medical treatment, but what rarely, if ever gets pointed out in response is that each year, tens of thousands of Americans travel outside the U.S. in to get medical treatment, sometimes life-saving procedures. Many of these people have health insurance, but they make the trips because their insurance companies won't cover the whole procedure, if they cover it at all. According to Newsweek, 60% of Americans find medical tourism appealing:

A new survey funded by Your Surgery Abroad, an online directory of medical tourism, found that more than 60 percent of Americans are willing to leave the country for cheaper medical services. “As people’s budgets in America are getting tighter, they’re much more inclined to start thinking about going abroad to save money,” says Adam Nethersole, the managing director of Your Surgery Abroad.

Wealthy patients have always crossed international borders (even the Nomads took trips to health spas), but the decreasing cost of travel has encouraged Americans of more moderate means to whip out their passports for medical procedures. And while more elective procedures like rhinoplasty and face-lifts used to attract consumers to exotic lands, a growing number of Americans are now traveling abroad for essential procedures like cardiology and cancer treatments. Read on...

If our health care system is so fantastic, why do thousands of Americans leave the country to get treatment elsewhere? Should we be surprised when we live in a country ranked 37th in the world by the World Health Organization? This isn't an indictment on our health care professionals, it's a testimony to the skyrocketing costs of medical care in this country and greed and rationing on the part of insurance companies. Perhaps some of our Democratic representatives and pundits might start picking up on the medical tourism business when talking about health care reform?

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