Medical Tourism: Traveling Outside US For Care Is Common

The kidnapping of four Americans in Mexico exposes a frequent behavior for many Americans: traveling abroad seeking cheaper or unavailable medical care.

The recent kidnapping of four Americans in Mexico illustrates a frequent behavior for many people in the US: traveling to foreign nations for medical care that either is not available at home or costs a lot less.

Two of the four were killed after they were kidnapped while traveling to Mexico for, according to a relative, cosmetic surgery.

Many leave the US for dental procedures, plastic surgery, cancer treatments and prescription medicines, experts say. Other popular travel destinations include Canada, India, and Thailand in addition to Mexico.

This is a more detailed look at the procedure.


Medical tourism has been growing in popularity for years, according to Lydia Gan, an economist at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke who researches the trend.

Those who don’t have health insurance or have plans that require them to spend thousands of dollars before coverage starts are fond of taking this trip.

Large corporations also sometimes send persons covered by their insurance to other nations for hip or knee replacements or bariatric surgery. For pricey prescription medications, some also transfer clients to Mexico.

A significant factor is cost. According to Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the non-profit Medical Tourism Association, a trade organization for the industry, healthcare in nations like Mexico can be more than 50% less expensive than it is in the United States.

Yet cosmetic operations, including stomach tucks that cost thousands of dollars, are mostly uncovered by US health plans.

People occasionally travel as well since they can receive various types of care more quickly outside of the US. They could also prefer to receive care from a medical professional who is a member of their culture or speaks their language.


According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of US citizens travel abroad each year for medical treatment.

Before Covid-19 struck, according to researcher Arturo Bustamante, over 400,000 Americans came to Mexico annually for medical treatment. Under stay-at-home orders for the pandemic, the number decreased, according to a professor of health policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, but then swiftly increased.

According to him, immigrants from Mexico or other Latino countries who reside in the United States make up the majority of patients traveling to Mexico for medical treatment.

Patients who are not Latino typically travel across the border for dental work, to purchase prescription medications, or to receive services like plastic surgery or some cancer treatments that are not covered in the US.


People can take precautions to reduce the hazards of seeking medical treatment abroad.

The US government’s travel advisories for their intended locations should be heeded, according to Edelheit.

According to Gan, working with a medical tourism agent can further increase the trip’s safety. Patients are frequently picked up at the airport by hospital staff or other care providers and driven to their hotel or doctor’s office.

Before comparing pricing, patients should examine the quality of their care, according to Edelheit. The location of the doctor’s training should be known, and any accreditations or qualifications should be checked.

They must absolutely ensure that they choose the best candidates, he said.

Even after the operation, patients may still be at danger. It could be challenging for a person’s American doctor to understand the specifics of the care obtained abroad if they experience complications after returning home.

According to Bustamante, patients may also have trouble suing their physician or hospital in Mexico.

“The system is usually difficult to navigate,” he remarked.

Written by Muhammad Qasim