US ‘medical tourists’ seek cheap healthcare abroad


By AFP – Oct 14,2019 -JORDAN TIMES

TIJUANA, Mexico — When Veronica Merrill decided to undergo stomach surgery for weight loss, she found two options: pay $12,000 at home in the United States, or have it done in Mexico for $4,000.

She packed her suitcase.

Her insurance would only cover the operation if she was morbidly obese and suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
This was not the case for the 50-year-old, who weighs 95 kilogrammes but aspires to slim down — precisely because she wants to avoid ending up with those medical conditions.

“It’s sad that I have to come to another country” for the procedure, said Merrill, who drives a school bus in rural Arizona and is highly critical of the US health system — the most expensive in the world.

“We shouldn’t have to do that. That’s crazy. And we’re the only ones [with this system], and that is depressing.”

After researching medical tourism options, she saved up the money and contacted a specialist agency to organise her trip over the border to Tijuana, where weight-loss operations and dental treatments are popular.

Others travel to the Mexican city for treatment of cardiovascular conditions or cancer, orthopedic work and fertility care, as well as to buy medications.

“If I only could have done it in the US… [but] I can’t pay that much money,” she told AFP. “I just want to be healthy.”
No price regulation

Each year, an estimated 20 million “medical tourists” seek treatment around the world, according to Patients Beyond Borders.

About 1.9 million of those people are Americans.

Mexico and Colombia — which many Americans associate more with drug trafficking than healthcare — are among the most popular destinations, along with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.


Medical tourism in Mexico

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