USA outbound medical travel returns

Record inflation and rising health care costs have resulted in the number of Americans travelling abroad for medical and dental care returning to pre-pandemic levels, according to a study. 787,000 Americans are expected to seek treatment outside the country in 2022, compared to 781,000 in 2020.

Of the 787,000 total, 263,000 are projected to seek medical treatment outside the country, up from 115,000 in 2020. 523,000 are expected to travel for dental care, compared to 173,000 in 2020.

How these figures were obtained is not explained.

Medical tourists are mostly looking for more affordable care than what is available at home.

Prices for dental services jumped 1.9% in June, which was the largest monthly increase since the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics began tracking numbers in 1995. Medical services were up 0.7%.

Inflation is driving dental and medical costs higher. This is encouraging patients (including middle- and upper-middle-class patients) to seek cross-border options for care.

Although driving across the Mexican border for dental treatment remains the backbone of U.S. medical travel, Americans are increasingly seek major surgeries at hospitals in global destinations. is a digital healthcare platform that markets a portfolio of proprietary, direct-to-consumer insurance and pharmacy plan products. says that procedures costing more than US$5,000 grew from 5% of total procedures in 2017 to 22% in 2022 for the travel service Medical Departures.

Other patients are travelling for elective procedures such as orthopaedic surgery that may be denied by U.S. insurers.

The vast majority of U.S.A. health insurance will not cover procedures outside the country.

Regardless of the reason, the group cautions patients to weigh the cost savings for medical procedures against travel expenses, safety, quality of care and other factors.  It points out that medical travellers should also remember that many countries require U.S.A. citizens to have travel insurance in order to visit.