Medical travel within the USA isn’t growing

With outbound medical tourism on hold, domestic medical tourism in the USA should be thriving, but it is not.

Americans are allowed to travel overseas if the destination country will let them in.

The U.S. government has a level-4 “Avoid All Travel” advisory in place, but Americans are still permitted to leave the country. However, upon returning to the USA some travellers may face a 14-day quarantine, depending on the state. Some states have no quarantine requirements.

Many countries, including all of Europe, have a ban on US tourists and medical tourists. Other counties demand a 14-day quarantine. The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St Maarten all opened and closed to travellers from the USA within days. Others may follow.

Countries not banning nor demanding quarantine for US travellers are limited to:

  • Albania
  • Antigua
  • Croatia
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Dubai
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • North Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent
  • Tanzania
  • Turkey
  • Turks and Caicos
  • UAE
  • US Virgin Islands

Many of these demand travel health insurance, a recent negative PCR test, a health declaration, contact tracing and airport testing.

In effect, health and medical tourists have very few places to go and face significant complexities if they do travel.

The domestic elective surgery ban earlier in the year has left a permanent mark on medical tourism, as hotels built next to, and occasionally in partnership with, hospitals have sat empty for months.

It will take at least a year for the USA to get back on track with elective surgeries.

With state rules in flux, it is impossible to plan out of state medical tourism as the situation changes. When they resume, surgeries will be prioritised and scheduled according to medical urgency. The backlog is growing.