WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL TOURISM ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Medical tourism comes in many different flavors but can be grouped primarily under the following four branches:
MEDICAL TOURISM FOR “MAJOR” MEDICAL PROCEDURES
Also referred to as non-elective or critical procedures, these tend to be relatively complex surgeries that, due to their urgent nature, must be procured in a relatively short time period. They include but are not limited to orthopedic procedures such as knee and hip replacements, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, gynecology procedures and general procedures such as hernia repairs and gallbladder removals. These procedures tend to be characteristic of the baby boomer generation and are therefore expected to increase in popularity as more North Americans enter this demographic age group.
MEDICAL TOURISM FOR PLASTIC SURGERY OR COSMETIC SURGERY PROCEDURES
From breast lifts to tummy tucks and buttock augmentations, these are the glamorous procedures most commonly associated with the term medical tourism. They are known as elective procedures as you elect or choose to have them done usually based on non life threatening considerations such as bettering your appearance. These procedures are normally not covered by insurance and its adherents are usually between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-five (though there are many exceptions to this rule).
DENTAL TOURISM A FORM OF MEDICAL TOURISM
As the heading suggests, this is the side of medical tourism that focuses on fixing your smile. Though the name may conjure up images of a tanned thirty-something brandishing a sparkling smile and strolling along a palm-fringed beach, the truth of the matter is that for many people, going abroad is the only way that they can afford to take care of sometimes complex dental problems. Popular treatments and procedures include teeth whitening and veneers all the way up to implants, crowns and complex cases such as maxillofacial surgery (correcting injuries and defects in the head, neck, face and jaw).
HEALTH TOURISM FOR WELLNESS & ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS
This is a rapidly growing sub-niche of medical tourism that has been around for many years. It is technically two sub-niches (though they do overlap) as we must differentiate between travel for alternative treatments and wellness tourism.
The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Section staff of the National Library of Medicine classifies alternative medicine under the term complementary therapies. This is defined as therapeutic practices which are not currently considered an integral part of conventional allopathic medical practice. Others would define it as any medical intervention not available at U.S hospitals. These “interventions” include but are not limited to certain cancer therapies, homeopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, mega-vitamin therapy, herbalism, acupuncture, massage, and new age healing. Wellness tourism, on the other hand, is characterized by generally healthy people seeking to preserve or promote their health through preventative care treatments such as medical check-ups, mega-vitamin therapy, yoga and meditation.