With 5 months remaining before our presidential election, one word has been getting plenty of media coverage over the past several months, “Change.” But what will change mean to our contemporary healthcare system. With close to 48 million people uninsured and several million underinsured, the ever-rising cost of healthcare has become one the most important issues of this campaign.
If Barack Obama is elected, we are likely to see change in the form of a nationalized healthcare system. We can already see many forms of this type of system in other countries such as Canada and England, just to name a couple. Under those systems, everybody is covered, but we know that the waiting period for most surgical procedures, such as a hip replacement or knee replacement is as long as two years.
If John McCain is elected, we will see more of a free-market system incorporating Health Savings Accounts (HSA), which will continue to put more choice in the hands of the consumers of healthcare services. The reasoning here is that more competition will reduce prices and improve quality for all.
Either way, we can be sure that any change to our current healthcare crisis will not be injected into our system by next January, when McCain or Obama is sworn into office. In fact, monumental change will most likely not occur within the next several years, as all the interconnected and vastly powerful interest groups stake their claims in the crumbling tectonic plates.
So where does this leave all the disenfranchised people that are suffering in great pain today? Should they suffer in a holding pattern until the supposed “change” takes effect? Should they continue filling for bankruptcy in order to cover their medical bills?
The truth of the matter is that we already have choice regarding our healthcare options. In today’s global economy, we have a safe, affordable, and valid alternative to the high cost of care in the U.S. This option has been coined by the media as “medical tourism.” Medical tourism is the practice of traveling abroad to obtain surgical procedures such as hip replacements and knee replacements, spinal fusions, total disc replacements, hysterectomies, cosmetic and dental surgery. The lower prices of these procedures are in no way indicative of lower quality. In fact, these hospitals that cater to international patients are among the most elite and respected healthcare institutions in their respective countries, the majority of which are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international division of the organization that accredits American hospitals. Furthermore, a large percentage of the surgeons at these hospitals are board certified in the US, the UK, or Australia.
In recent years, this phenomenon of medical travel has been gaining real traction in North America as thousands have traveled far-and-wide to countries like Argentina, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, for their medical procedures. Since 2003, US-based MedRetreat, the pioneer and leader in the medical travel sector has been assisting North Americans safely and seamlessly travel abroad to obtain their medical procedures.
To be sure, medical tourism is not the be-all-end-all solution to our healthcare crisis, but thousands of people are learning every year that they have a real cost-effective choice when considering their options for treating and alleviating their pain.
In November, we will learn who our next president will be and what changes we can anticipate several years down the road for our healthcare system. In the meantime, those in pain and without insurance should seriously consider medical tourism as an option.