MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

August 3, 2009

A Cosmetic Surgery Luxury Tax Would Boost Medical Tourism

Embattled congressmen on Capital Hill are churning out endless ideas to help pay for the massive healthcare reform proposals, which will cost Americans more than 1 trillion dollars over a ten year period, according to most estimates.

One idea proposed just this past week was a “luxury tax on plastic surgery.”  Although it appears that this idea has not gained mass appeal as of yet, it does make one wonder if all the reform stakeholders are considering the long-term consequences of all their political policies.

Take this example above of a luxury tax on plastic/cosmetic surgery.   The obvious reason for such a proposal is that cosmetic surgery is in most cases not necessary, and is considered by many a luxury for wealthy Americans.  A face and neck lift can easily cost over $10,000 to the average patient.

What has not been considered, however, is the numbers of Americans that are traveling outside the U.S. for their cosmetic procedures. This trend, referred to in the media as “medical tourism,” has grown from a fringe business only few years ago into a full-fledged industry today.

Many U.S. Board Certified Surgeons are treating North Americans every day at state-of-the-art hospitals that are accredited by the Joint Commission International, the branch of the U.S. accreditation organizations that accredits hospitals in the U.S.  These hospitals, located in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and India, are able to perform the same procedures at a fraction of the cost in the U.S.  The same face and neck lift that is over $10,000 in many places in the U.S. are little as $4,000 in many countries around the world.

It would seriously behoove our politicians in Washington, D.C. to consider the broader implications of adding a tax here and tax there to pay for increased government control.  Global competition is a reality.  Doctors and patients can travel.

For more information about medical travel, visit MedRetreat, the first U.S. organization established in 2003, to assist Americans in traveling abroad in a very safe and stress-free manner to receive medical treatment.

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