As the world gets smaller due to the ease of international travel, more and more people are combining vacations with medical treatment. Sometimes, elective surgery that is expensive back home in the US is much more affordable abroad. Sometimes, experimental procedures not available stateside are available in other countries.
The beauty industry attracts lots of people to the Philippines and Korea. TIME magazine has recently recognized Dr. Vicki Belo, head of the Belo Medical Group, for being at the forefront of the medical tourism industry. The article named her “the Rising Star of Beauty Tourism” in the Philippines. Belo Medical Group has performed thousands of liposuction, rhinoplasty and breast augmentation procedures over the past 24 years and has grown into the preferred and most trusted name in the field.
“My vision is to make the Philippines a world-renowned beauty destination,” says Belo. “We have continuously invested in raising the standards of quality in our procedures and patient care.” With the help of her clinic, medical tourism to the Philippines has grown into a $3 billion industry.
Korea also attracts many international visitors seeking aesthetic procedures. In fact, the Korea Tourism Office offers comprehensive planning services that include assistance finding the right doctor and hospital for your needs together with assistance with making your flight and lodging arrangements. “About 40 per cent of my customers are now from overseas,” says Park Yang-soo, founder of Dream Plastic Surgery, one of the leading cosmetic surgery companies.
The Korean government recognizes that medical care can provide a significant boost to the country’s economy and is encouraging Korean hospitals to expand their operations to other nations, including the US. The government also operates a help center to provide legal support to foreign patients unhappy with their treatment and has relaxed visa requirements for medical tourists. According to the Financial Times, Korea expects its medical tourism business to triple in the next 5 years.
Having so many options for quality medical care in other countries may soon have an impact on health care in the United States, as competition forces us to rethink how medical services are provided and paid for.