Analysis by US health insurer, HealthCare.com shows that for most Americans, medical travel means heading south of the border to Mexico, for dental treatment.
There are many misleading claims about outbound American medical tourists.
Most arise from confusing US expats, US military or US business or holiday travellers needing treatment when they happen to be or live in another country, with US based Americans who choose to go overseas for medical treatment.
HealthCareInsider, the insurance market analysis arm of HealteCare, analysed proprietary data from Medical Departures, described as “an Expedia for medical travel”. During the pandemic, they found that in 2020, an estimated 290,000 Americans went abroad for dental and medical procedures. The previous year, some 780,000 sought outbound services. Projected analysis for 2021 is 650,000.
The analysis also found that spending has increased 20% to 50%, with Americans travelling abroad saving anywhere from 50% to 80% on medical and dental procedures. In Mexico for example, root canals are 80% cheaper and in vitro fertilisation, 75.5%.
HealthCareInsider found that popular destinations included Los Algodones, Mexico for full arch reconstruction and dental implants; Bogota, Colombia for nose surgery; and Pasay, Philippines for hip replacements. Other ‘hot spots’ included Bangkok, Thailand; and Tijuana, Mexico.
Medical Departures sends 100,000 or more Americans each year to Mexico. The most popular procedures booked are for implants and complete mouth reconstruction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that while cost is the main reason, people also leave to get a procedure or therapy that is not available or approved in the United States.