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Saved from Obamacare by Medical Tourism

I frequently read Reason.com for their largely libertarian articles about U.S. politics and economy. The subject of medical tourism came up in one of their Reason TV pieces and they asked the question “Can medical tourism save us from Obamacare?” I don’t know about all of us but some of us for sure. For those Americans still trapped in the country there is no escape from the costs – you have to pay for insurance or you have to pay the penalty for not having insurance. But when the shortages of medical care becomes severe then those with means can take a trip abroad to get needed health care, as long as it is not an emergency situation.

For those who are happy expats then medical tourism is the ultimate escape from Obamacare. For one, we don’t pay (we are considered covered where we live). And if we live in one of the many popular expat countries that is also a medical tourism destination they we get our care right at home.

In the article on Reason.com they mentioned Turkey as a major destination for foreign patients, over 500,000 in 2011. That was a surprise to me. But it was also mentioned that many Syrians (and presumable others in the region) went to Turkey for treatment after suffering injuries in the violence there. That no doubt greatly inflated the numbers that would be typical during peace time.

Bumrungrad Hospital also got a mention. It would be an oversight to omit them from any article on medical tourism. But I think the statistic of 400,000 foreign patients per year is understated and a bit out of date. I think the number has steadily grown in the last few years, although I haven’t seen a number published by an official source.

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