Jan 20, 2021 - Health

Medical tourism survives pandemic

Illustration of a medical mask with a hundred dollar bill on it crumpled on the ground

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are still traveling to other countries for medical procedures, despite safety concerns and travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Medical tourism took a hit last year, but not a fatal one, especially after the pandemic cost millions of Americans their jobs and their health insurance.

The big picture: Pre-pandemic, millions of Americans traveled to other countries for savings of between 40 to 80% on medical treatments, according to the global medical tourism guide Patients Beyond Borders.

The state of play: Some countries that have closed their borders to tourists still allow essential travel, which includes medical procedures.

  • Mexico and Costa Rica have become the most popular destinations for dental care, cosmetic surgery and prescription medicines.
  • Thailand, India and South Korea draw in patients for more complex procedures including orthopedics, cardiovascular, cancer and fertility treatment.

Go deeper: Even insurers will sometimes foot the bill for "pharma tourism."

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