The United States has a reputation for expensive medical care which lead many to think it would not be a popular destination for medical tourists. This assumption is false. As many as 800,000 medical travelers come to the US every year for medical care, making it the 3rd most popular destination for medical tourism. Additionally, there is much medical tourism within the country as patients travel to other cities and states to obtain care that is not available at home.
The main reason for all this health traveling is quality of care. American is home to some of the best doctors, hospitals, clinics, and some of the most advanced treatments and procedures anywhere in the world. There are world-renowneded research hospitals, cancer treatment clinics, children’s’ hospitals, and many other top-ranked medical facilities. Schools like Harvard, John Hopkins, and Stanford consistently graduate the best doctors in the world who complete residencies in top hospitals across the country before accepting positions throughout the US.
Hospitals in the US offer state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology. This includes diagnostic equipment such as PET scanners, and MRIs, as well as treatment tools for laser and robotic surgery. Medical records are now digital in many facilities, which cuts down on human errors in test results, procedures, and the filling of prescriptions.
Domestic medical travel is also on the rise within the US. While Americans have always traveled to nearby cities or states to see specialists or obtain experimental treatments, more and more are finding that a short trip can result in equal or better care for less money. A number of large employers have begun encouraging employees in more remote areas, where costs are high, to travel to medical centers for procedures that are both less expensive and, in many cases, more successful. These employers have found that they can obtain high quality care for their employees at 20-40% savings. Employees also end up saving on their share of the costs, plus their employer pays for the travel and lodging costs.
Surgeries available in the United States
For inbound medical travelers (those coming from outside the US), high risk and complicated surgeries are the most popular reasons for travel. These include things like organ transplant, cardiovascular surgeries and procedures, oncology, fertility, and orthopedic surgery. Cutting edge experimental surgeries and treatments are likely to be offered in the US before other parts of the world and those are also big draws for foreign patients. Still other health tourists come to the US for eye surgery and dental care that Americans take for granted but are not available in their home land.
The US is also known for diagnostic medicine. Many foreigners travel to the US for access to high tech diagnostic scans and tests as well as more advanced health screenings than are available in their home country. Most then take those results home for treatment while a few will need to stay in the US to receive emergency or advanced treatments.
Domestic health travel is well established for things like cancer or disease treatment, organ transplants, and cardiac surgery. Patients will travel to the best treatment center in their region, even if it means leaving their hometown or crossing state lines. In recent years travel for fertility treatments, orthopedic surgeries such as joint replacement, and specialty treatments like gender-reassignment surgery or ongoing care for rare conditions and diseases has become more common. Americans are also willing to travel to obtain addiction treatment at some of the best rehabilitation centers in the world.
The actual list of treatments and surgeries available in the US is virtually endless.
Where to Go in the US
For the most part, treatment availability is the main factor when foreign patients decide where to travel in the US. If they are coming for the expertise of a specific doctor or a treatment offered by a top medical center, that will determine where they go. For example, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is located in Memphis, Tennessee, while the Mayo Clinic has centers in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida and the top-ranked hospital for heart transplants is at UCLA in California.
Patients who are seeking quality care but don’t require a specific facility can probably chose any major US city and find both the care they desire and the type of environment that will best suit their recovery. The US offers beaches on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico. There are mountains, rolling hills, great prairies, sprawling urban centers, historic cities, and even dry, desert climates. Almost any altitude, climate, and type of water can be found somewhere, as well as a wide variety of cultures and traditions that will infuse the experience of staying in a given city.
New England is known for it’s historical significance in the US and includes cities such as Boston, New Haven, and Providence all of which have thriving medical communities. The Atlantic coast line is here, as are forests, mountains, river valleys and a few urban centers.
The Mid-Atlantic is home to New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other leading urban centers. Art, music, food, historical landmarks, and unique regional cultural centers abound.
The South offers coastline, mighty rivers, regional music such as jazz and the blues as well as a wide-range of cuisines, art, and natural wonders. Think of cities like Atlanta and New Orleans as well as cities like Miami and Tampa which provide a more tropical experience.
The Mid-West and Plains states encompass rivers, plains, farmland, valley, and, yes, even some mountains. Cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Detroit have top-notch medical facilities. Each also has its own “flavor” of culture, music, food, and history.
The Southwest include deserts, mesas, and mountains and includes cities like Dallas, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Dry air, warm temperatures, and sunny skies are perfect for recuperating from a number of surgeries. Mountain vistas are also available here, complete with cooler temperatures and winter recreation. All have the history and flavor of the American frontier.
The Western states vary greatly and include cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Pacific coastline is filled with sunny beaches in the south as well as island destinations. There are plenty of mountains and green valleys as well California wine country, national parks and forests, and a few urban centers.
Those seeking a truly unique American medical retreat should consider Hawaii for a tropical island paradise or Alaska for the wonders of the arctic, including very long days (summer) or nights (winter), both of which offer unparallelled natural beauty.