One way or another, healthcare reform is coming to the U.S. Regardless of how the final details turn out it will not serve as the be-all and end-all solution to our national healthcare system that many are wishing for. There are no perfect healthcare systems in the world that delivers access to all in a cost-effective, fair and equitable way. If there were, we could simply copy such a model as our own and quickly move on to the next issue of the day.
The current policies that the Obama Administration and the Democrats are proposing will most likely evolve into a form of government-centric nationalized system, meaning that the bureaucrats in Washington will ultimately take the chains of command and decision making away from the doctors and their individual patients.
This type of plan is not a new and innovative at all. To see the ramifications of such a system, all we have to do is look at the results from Canada and England.
Although we don’t hear stories coming out of Canada and the U.K. about someone being denied healthcare access due to financial constraints, we often hear about:
- Government rationing due to high cost of care
- Extensive waiting times for non-life threatening conditions, such as 3 to 5 years for a hip or knee replacement
- Higher mortality rates for many forms of cancer because the government deems the medications too costly
- Older patients being denied access because of their age.
As a result of these governmental constraints, millions of Canadian and British patients have been travelling to foreign countries for decades in order to receive immediate medical access for their conditions which they were denied in their home countries. This mass exodus led to the exponential growth of the medical tourism industry.
In more recent years, uninsured and underinsured U.S. patients have been traveling to foreign countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, India, Mexico, and Costa Rica for many surgical procedures that are a mere fraction of the cost in the US.
If our government ends up establishing a nationalized healthcare system, it’s ironic that while group a of citizens will not have to worry about travelling thousands of miles away from home for affordable surgical procedures any more, another larger group of citizens will elect to travel far and wide for immediate access.
Regardless of the reform that is achieved in the U.S., it is apparent that medical travel will continue to increase. For anyone seeking medical care abroad, regardless of reason, it is important to research and understand all the issues to best guarantee safe outcomes. For comprehensive information about medical tourism, pick up a copy of the recently published Complete Idiots Guide to Medical Tourism, by Patrick Marsek. This book spells out all the options, pricing estimates, destinations, and pertinent information for a safe and stress-free medical retreat.