Sep 27

For the purposes of Beauty from Afar, I did not think I had to prove that medical care in the United States was of lesser quality than in other countries. I don’t claim to be competent to make that determination. I don’t think anyone is.

But I had to make a convincing argument that the care in many countries, at their best hospitals, was certainly comparable to that in the best facilities in the United States. And that was, and is, do-able.

The two main components of the equation, in determining whether medical tourism makes any sense for an individual, or as part of a system of health care, are quality — and cost. It is a relatively simple matter to show that costs of medical services in the U.S. are much higher than they are in other countries that offer comparable quality. If one is making a decision based solely on economics, a substantial proportion of non-emergency surgery currently done in the United States ought to be done in other countries.

So why isn’t it? There are overriding, almost overwhelming political and psychological factors that figure into healthcare as well, of course, and I address those throughout Beauty from Afar. But one has to set the table and I bring up the costs and benefits in Chapter 1 here:

U.S. Healthcare and Spiraling Costs

Though it does not have much to do with medical tourism, I recommend Timothy Egan’s

The Way We Die Now

for his writing and for his insight into the problems of U.S. healthcare. He quotes former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber. M.D.:

“The fundamental problem is that 1 percent of the population accounts for 35 percent of health care spending.  So the big question is not how we pay for health care, but what are we buying.”

I wonder how that compares to other countries? I don’t know. Here’s Kitzhaber’s blog.


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