GLOBAL HEALTH: Americans Traveling Worldwide For Care
Americans, for many reasons, including "curiosity, adventure [and] lower costs," are trekking around the world in search of medical care, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some of the most popular health travel destinations appear below:
- Canada: Ever since this country introduced Lasik, the most popular laser eye surgery, well before the United States in the early 1990s, Americans have frequently traveled north for the procedure. The weak Canadian dollar, which can help reduce the surgery's cost by up to $2,000, offers additional enticement;
- Mexico: With fees totaling about a third of what U.S. dentists charge, Mexican dentists have "openly court[ed]" U.S. residents, and their services are sought especially by those without health insurance. In addition, Americans travel to Mexico, as well as Latin American and South American countries, for cosmetic surgery, despite warnings from U.S. doctors. The cost for surgery in these places can be 50% less than in the United States;
- Europe: European dermatologists have "several injectable, collagen-like skin fillers for wrinkles and lip augmentation that are not yet approved" in the United States. Dr. Nick Lowe, a cosmetic dermatologist based in California and England, said these "are the best products out there;"
- Israel: Many Americans who suffer from arthritis visit the Dead Sea because of its high salt and mineral content, which some doctors claim soothes sore joints. For people with the skin disorder psoriasis, the Dead Sea's elevation of 1,000 feet below sea level allows greater exposure to the sun's skin-clearing UVA rays than almost any other place on the globe;
- China: Although acupuncture and herbal remedies are widely available in the U.S., Americans still visit China to learn more about such treatments. Glenn Grossman, a Chinese-trained Michigan acupuncturist, said, "People go to study with a master of traditional Chinese medicine. Or they have a fatal diagnosis that Western medicine has failed to cure. Or they have decided they want a combination -- they don't think, say, chemotherapy by itself is the answer, and they want herbal treatments too;"
- India: The ancient practice of ayurvedic medicine, which utilizes special diets, massages and fragrant oils, has become very popular in the United States, and many "patients and practitioners" have traveled to India where the practice originated (Carey/Allen, 8/28).