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What is medical tourism? What are the risks and benefits of participating in it?

In general, the concept of travelling to a foreign country to have a medical procedure done.

For residents of countries like the US, basic medical procedures can be incredibly costly when paying out of pocket. Elective (or optional) procedures that aren't covered by insurance or national health plans are among the popular causes that compel people to seek medical services elsewhere.

Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Israel, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Canada are popular destination countries. Procedures can range from cosmetic surgery (Thailand and South Korea), to cheaper stays for long-term hospitalization (Costa Rica, Ecuador), to just cheaper dental and eye surgery. Because many countries' citizens can't afford expensive procedures, the costs can be drastically reduced. In other countries, the lack of an insurance-based medical system may see the costs of prescriptions significantly reduced.

Some people may also leave for another country to receive better healthcare than in their home country. This is prevalent with people attaining healthcare in Europe, Canada, the US, and Australia from China, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Examples of complex procedures might be cancer screening and chemotherapy, experimental regimens, in vitro fertilization, and organ transplants.

Alvin Loong, Univ of Washington, Class of '16, International Relations