Tom's Take: Medical TourismSep 24, 2013
More people are going overseas for surgery or other procedures that they can't afford in the United States. University of Utah Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tom Miller gives you his take on the phenomenon known as "medical tourism."
Announcer: And now, it's time for some straight talk from Dr. Tom Miller on Health Trends, Patient Concerns, Medical Myths, The State of Healthcare. This is Tom's Take on The Scope.
Dr. Miller: Medical Tourism. I read an article in the New York Times last Sunday about a person going across the seas there to get their new hip, their new knee, and I want to bring up a few points about this. I think it's really interesting. I think the cost of health care for Americans that don't have health care is way too high, and as this article pointed out, if you need a hip or a knee replaced, it might be best to go abroad and have that done.
There are quality hospitals both in Europe and in other areas of the world that will do these surgeries for you. But the problem is how do you find the best hospitals? We already know it's kind of difficult to sort out which hospitals in the United States are the best ones, the most quality-oriented, the most value-oriented. How do you do that abroad? I think it might even be more difficult.
The other question I have is what do you do if there are complications by the time you get back home? All concerns for somebody who is spending a fair amount of money out of their bank accounts to get these things done. Even though it's cheaper. I think you have to know where you're going to go and what your going to do if you have problems when you get back, because those can be big unknowns.
Hopefully in the future, if we have the Accountable Care Act insuring more Americans, I would suggest that maybe fewer people would need to go abroad to get their health care needs and expensive surgeries and expensive procedures. But for now, that seems to be an option for a number of people who need to have these things done and simply can't afford it under our health care system. That concerns me.
I'm Dr. Tom Miller and that's my take.
Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah's Health Sciences Radio.