Healthcare costs in the U.S. have spiraled out of control. Medical-related bankruptcies have become common… and there’s no end in sight. No wonder more and more people seek healthcare options overseas.
Medical tourism can seem like a dream come true. You visit a beautiful country for bargain-basement medical treatment, add in a “vacation” to recuperate, and still save thousands of dollars.
Maybe tens of thousands of dollars.
But there’s a dark side to this discount healthcare bonanza. A side most folks pushing medical tourism would rather you didn’t talk about. What don’t they want you to know?
How easily this “vacation” trip could turn into your swan song.
When Opportunity Becomes Life-Threatening Risk
We’ve seen the brochures. We’ve read the glowing reviews. We’ve also seen the less publicized results. Medical tourism may save you money, but it’s riskier than most folks are willing to say.
Even plain international travel may put you at risk.
CBS News reported in January 2017 on a woman from Nevada who traveled to Asia. During her trip, she became ill. She was hospitalized several times before returning home. Shortly after her return, she died.
The cause? An antimicrobial resistant “superbug.”
According to an expert from Johns Hopkins Hospital, the benefits of medical tourism may now be overshadowed by the risks. Too many people are coming back to the U.S. with bacteria that our toughest antibiotics can’t knock out.
Medical tourists are bringing death-dealing microbes home with them. And it doesn’t take long to pick them up. Or even a stay in a hospital.
The Spread of Death-Dealing Superbugs
A 2016 article in NewScientist paints a dire picture.A study of 122 international travelers revealed alarming news:
Fifty-five Dutch volunteers showed just 10% carried antibiotic-resistant genes when they left for their travels. But up to 55% carried these genes on their return.
The same researchers tested a group of travelers daily on trips to Asia and Canada. Within just two days, many of them picked up superbugs genes.
After trips to India, for instance, genes resistant to quinolones – key “last resort” antibiotics – remained in some travelers’ guts for up to a month.
Other studies found genes resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics in South-East Asians jumped from 2% to 70% in just 10 years.
The bottom line? Drug-resistant genes are spreading. And at an alarming rate. They seem to be spreading most quickly in Asia… especially in less developed countries.
Medical Tourists Beware
In 2010, a professor from Wales’ Cardiff University reported a drug-resistant strain of a bacterium went from extremely rare to infecting up to 3% of the population with the bacteria in India in just 3 years.
Moreover, Professor Tim Walsh notes the resistant strain moved from India and Pakistan to the U.K. And, yes, medical tourism was involved.
Some of the U.K. carriers of this drug-resistant bacterium had traveled to Asia for everything from bone marrow transplants to burn treatments to cosmetic surgery.
That’s right: Cosmetic surgery. The truth is, that nip or tuck could cost you a lot more than the price on the label. Like that poor woman from Nevada, you could wind up dead.
Think Before You Jump
According to Australia’s Deeble Institute, a billion people travel internationally every year. Medical tourism accounts for a significant number of these travelers. But this travel carries some heavy risks.
To begin with, many medical tourists travel to less developed countries to save as much as possible on the cost of medical procedures.
Plus, these people are exposed to high-risk environments. Hospitals are more likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bugs than other locations. So having procedures done at hospitals in less developed countries could raise your risk of exposure.
To protect yourself, take some simple measures…
- Don’t rely on companies selling medical tourism services. In general, they’ll paint the rosiest picture possible.
- Avoid less developed countries. Yes, procedures may be less expensive there. But the risk of exposure may be much higher.
- Do your research. An hour or two following online links could save you years of suffering. Or even death. Find out all you can about your options.
- Consider in-country options. You can often find services within the U.S. that run thousands less than your local hospital. Don’t overlook this option – which could save you a world of pain.
Medical tourism is popular… and it does offer some advantages. But you should weigh those advantages against the risks.
Whatever you do – don’t take some salesman’s word on safety. This is your life we’re talking about. You need to make the most informed decision you can.
And that rarely depends on the information provided by someone selling medical tourism services.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Welch, A., “Woman died from superbug resistant to all available antibiotics in U.S.,” CBS News. Jan 13, 2017.
Coughlan, A., “Tourists pick up antibiotic- resistance genes in just two days,” NewScientist. Jun 24, 2016
Boseley, S., “Antibiotics’ efficiency wanes due to global spread of drug-resistant bacteria,” The Guardian. Aug 10, 2010.
Senanayake, S., “Antibiotic resistance: how did we get here and what can we do?” Deeble Institute. Apr 12, 2013.
Suliyang, H., “Asia’s leading destination for advanced medical care,” miphidic.com. Nov 6, 2016.
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