Yes, Medical Tourism Is Still a Really Bad Idea

Every so often, someone will argue that Americans, faced with high healthcare costs, should embrace medical tourism–going abroad for cheaper healthcare. I’ve argued before that this is a really bad idea from an infectious disease perspective. This story from Boston makes the case even stronger (boldface mine):

Boston health officials are investigating several reports of severe infections in patients who traveled to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery.

At least two patients in Boston, and another in Worcester, are believed to have been infected with Mycobacterium abscessus, a bacteria that is not easily battled with antibiotics, and can take months of treatment to vanquish.

The patients were part of a group that went to the Dominican Republic during the summer for surgeries and started having health problems, including abscesses and drainage from their surgery sites, earlier this fall, said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the infectious disease bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission.

Other patients in the group who live in Maryland, Connecticut, and New York have also been infected, she said.

Health officials are concerned because so-called “medical tourism” has become a major industry in many Latin American countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 750,000 people from the United States travel abroad each year seeking low cost medical care.

This is a really bad solution to the healthcare cost problem.

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