Barriers for US medical tourism to Cuba

Loosening of restrictions on travel to Cuba caused misinformed comment that Americans could legally go to Cuba as medical tourists.

When President Obama announced the further loosening of restrictions on travel to Cuba, misinformed comment suggested that Americans could legally go to Cuba as medical tourists.

Even with the updated restrictions it is hard for the average American to legally visit Cuba for medical tourism or tourism.

The government has removed the stipulation that Americans participate in people to people educational trips only in arranged groups, but the 2014 restrictions concerning who can travel to Cuba, and for what purposes, are still in place.

Americans can now travel to Cuba as individuals if they meet select criteria such as engaging in a full time schedule of educational exchange activities. So travellers can travel individually but still have to participate in educational activities with native Cubans.

The reasons Americans can visit Cuba legally: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

Medical tourism or even medical tourism mixed with taking part in a legal activity is still not legal for Americans,

The USA has yet to lift its trade and financial embargo on Cuba. Obama has repeatedly urged Congress to end the more than 50-year-old policy, but his Republican opponents, who control both chambers of Congress, accuse him of betraying the cause of human rights in Cuba by engaging with the Castro regime.

The European Union and Cuba have just signed a deal to normalise trade relations.